Mnemonic texts could be serialized in small sections over time, timed to reader recall

One early theory in our design of the Mnemonic medium was that if someone reviews chapter 1’s content a few times, they may have an easier time understanding chapter 2: Complex ideas may be hard to learn in part because their components overflow working memory.

If one took that idea seriously:

  1. One might author later chapters not as free-standing texts but as focused additions to prior chapters, assuming that the reader had thoroughly learned that material.
  2. One might write smaller chapters to keep working memory from overflowing; one might use chapter boundaries as “checkpoints” before building something new on that prior material.
  3. One might suggest when readers should continue to the next chapter, either passively in a chapter listing or proactively with a notification. One might even gate access to later chapters on progress through its prerequisite chapters.
  4. One might incorporate the extended calendar schedule into one’s writing: if you know that the reader won’t reach chapter 5 until two months after chapter 1, that may significantly change the relationship authors develop with readers in their prose. (Mass mediums mostly lack an authored time dimension beyond a day)

Execute Program implements the first three of these notions, and it certainly creates quite a curated-feeling experience:

  1. Execute Program’s lessons assume solid recall of prior material
  2. Execute Program’s lessons are quite short
  3. Execute Program’s lessons don’t unlock until you’ve successfully reviewed their prerequisites

This is one possible instantiation of The mnemonic medium can be adapted to author an experience which unfolds over time, a kind of Timeful text.

This relates to Incremental reading, but with the author exerting somewhat more control over the session composition.

Last updated 2023-07-13.