The mnemonic medium keeps readers in contact with material over time

Impact on memory aside, Mnemonic medium readers maintain ongoing contact with what they’ve read through the review sessions. Rather than reading something once and perhaps never thinking about it again, the review sessions bring readers back to that text again and again. This is a kind of Timeful text.

What is the effect of this contact over time?

  • I suspect that it changes readers’ relationship to the text in a meaningful way. Because you’re pushed to think about that material repeatedly over time, it’s easier to identify as, say, someone who’s thinking about quantum computing—not just someone who read a quantum computing article one time.
  • It creates opportunities for spontaneous connections. “Oh, yes, seeing this prompt again reminds me…” The effect may extend beyond the review session to serendipitous connections made while out and about, since the session “freshens” that material in readers’ minds.
  • Particularly if the prompts are written to inspire reflection or synthesis, this effect creates opportunities to engage with the material at progressively deeper levels over time. For instance, a prompt designed to help you reflect on your design practice may function very differently on day one and day one thousand. (see also Spaced repetition memory systems can be used to prompt application, synthesis, and creation)
  • A different angle: Spaced repetition systems as catechism

Going beyond simple contact: The mnemonic medium can be adapted to author an experience which unfolds over time.

Readwise tries to produce a similar effect through more passive engagement.