Lessons learned from applying the mnemonic medium to non-technical texts

Trying to adapt the Mnemonic medium to non-technical texts (e.g. with How to write good prompts):

In terms of the author’s experience:

Anecdotal tidbits:

  • Appears to also cause The mnemonic medium may push readers to read more slowly and attentively
    • Geoffrey Litt: “The Orbit integration made me slow down and take the act of reading more seriously. Several times it helped me realize I had skimmed over entire paragraphs without even noticing how little I was paying attention”
  • Helps with motivation—feels like a real investment
    • Giacomo Randazzo: “Not only did Orbit motivate me in reading more carefully, it was also a big incentive in investing time in reading the essay: I know I’ll keep in touch with it over time, creating way more connections compared to a superficial read.”
    • NothingIsntTrivial “I feel like I’m “getting something out of it”. “
  • Very effortful
  • “Feels like homework” / “stressful” (see also Reading comprehension questions are unpleasant)
    • Emily: “the orbit thing on the recent @meaningness essay reminds me of school homework”
    • Lucca: ”It feels like there is a huge mental chasm between reading and answering prompts. Reading for me is to walk in strange and wonderful lands. Answering prompts is a very cold, grey thing to do.”
    • Kenny: “It was overall a little jarring – I genuinely enjoy reading your writing and answering questions in between was noticeably different. I’m not ‘sold’ on it, but I’m open to continue testing it!”
    • Henry: “…it somehow stressed me out. Instead of reading (an already intellectually dense) text, I felt like I was being quizzed or in class somehow. I got through about 30% of the article and then exited because it felt strangely stressful. What started as a pleasurable experience reading a smart man's take on metarationality turned into a reflection of my own intellectual inadequacy of retention. … I recognize that some of this is my own negative story (and accurate assessment) at my retention of new, challenging intellectual concepts. Part of it was an emotional response to something deeper that I can’t quite put my finger on yet. Part of me wishes I could opt in / opt out at the top and all the Orbits would hide dynamically below. Because I’m an overachiever, I simply can’t (don’t want to?) skip over the purple boxes, but stopping to answer each question, and then scrolling back up to find the answers, makes it a much more laborious and heavy-feeling reading experience. Much more like I’m in a course and I’m going to get a grade (ick) vs. growing my own intellectual landscape (yay). And, at the same time, I totally recognize that my retention of the core concepts is likely to increase from going through those prompts. So it may just be me needing to get over myself and devote the appropriate time for the material. It’s just fascinating to me that I had such a visceral emotional response in this post whereas I did not in reading any of your other (equally intellectually dense) posts. Perhaps I should have said it eustressed me out. Definitely not a bad thing, albeit uncomfortable.”
  • Prompts expect people to internalize abstractions too quickly
    • Lucca: “Texts can deal with variability of understanding because they typically don’t need you to understand everything right away. If you don’t “get” a prompt, you are stopped right in your tracks.”
Last updated 2023-07-13.