The Mnemonic medium is designed to make answering prompts extremely lightweight.
If readers are to remember all the key material from a mnemonic text, authors must include many prompts (e.g. QCVC has 112 prompts and 20k words). As prompts become lighter-weight, readers will tolerate more of them at a given level of interest or time commitment. If each prompt takes 6s, we can add 112 prompts to QCVC at the cost of about 10 minutes—not so bad, since it takes most readers 3-4 hours to finish that essay.
If we only consider in-essay reading time, it wouldn’t be so bad if prompts took twice as long to answer. 20 minutes instead of 10 minutes in the context of a 3-4 hour reading experience doesn’t seem terribly material. But the efficiencies (or inefficiencies) compound. Most readers require 5-7 repetitions to reach multi-month retention, so at 6 seconds per prompt, we can expect that retaining those 112 prompts “costs” about 90 minutes in the ensuing months. Doubling that number would be a significant burden. (See Mnemonic essays may offer detailed retention of their contents in exchange for 35-50% reading time overhead)
Textbooks traditionally punctuate sections with exercises, but these problems are often fairly involved. They might require extended thought or pen and paper—in any case, a significant context switch away from the reading experience. You wouldn’t want to consider that context switch every few paragraphs.
But because the mnemonic medium’s questions are lightweight, we can interleave them every few hundred words in Quantum Country. We were concerned about the disruption this might cause to the reading experience, so we interviewed readers extensively about prompt timing. No readers reported finding the review sets disruptive or annoying. Instead, we’ve found a number of positive effects; see Mnemonic medium prompts are interleaved into the reading experience for more discussion.