Ask a memory champion

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18 July, 2013 - 23:05
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hanselder wrote:
hi,

a guide about hot wo manipulate images would be greate.
Make our pictures(images from imaginations)
manipulate them:
changing
size, colour, adding and removing stuff/pictures, seeing pictures in detail, rough, zooming in and out etc. etc.

Manipulation scenes (imaginations)
How to add a new thing, how to delete something.
How to expand a scene, how to reduce a scene
Change size, colors
Getting it more detailed or rougher(more general)

Well, my techniques are just used for memory competitions, where the key is quick and accurate, so I just make my pictures and basically let them do whatever they want to do, to make them memorable.

This kind of manipulation and detail is more useful in long-term memory tasks. I'll reply at greater length about this in future, because it's a very interesting question and needs more time spent on it! Stay tuned!

18 July, 2013 - 23:10
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simon L. wrote:
Hi Ben,
The 2 cards per image system, which you invented has, as far as I know, inspired the current world record holder, to create a similar system that has helped him to break the world record at Speed Card.

Now my question is this, you have invented a system that apparently allows some people to reach a level of excellence in memory never before achieved in human history. Do you feel you have been adequately rewarded for your invention?

If you had invented something else, say something that helped a computer to work faster, you would probably hold a patent by now that would be worth huge amounts of money to you. Help a machine memorize things faster and you'll be a multimillionaire. Help a human brain to reach new level of excellence and you get... to give away free copies of your book? In your opinion, do you feel the values of society are skewed as it rewards greatly people who help machines more than it does people who help the human intellect? Or perhaps you feel that everything is fine the way it is right now? Thanks for your thoughts on this and thanks for your kind comment regarding my last question.

Yes, basically, I feel everything is fine the way it is right now.

Here's the thing - I don't think that I've "helped a human brain to reach a new level of excellence". At best, I've contributed to making someone a little bit better at a party trick. There are people who think they deserve to be millionaires because they know something about memory techniques, but I'm not one of them - it's a pretty pointless thing that I just do for fun, and I'm always grateful if occasionally some of these people see fit to give me money for it... :)

19 July, 2013 - 05:30
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Hi Ben how will you memorise this
Mgjptgjga1mgj22gtpm45!magtgjm0go64ki? :D
Sorry i know it is just a bit... :D yet i am curious to know

19 July, 2013 - 06:23
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Hi ben :)
Simple question : if I review some images in one file so many times that the image immediatly come in my head when I think in that file .. Will that affect ( in a bad way ) other images that I put them in the same file at another day but without review ? Or that help my brain separating the images that help me to remember it all ^_^

19 July, 2013 - 06:33
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Quote:
Hi Ben how will you memorise this
Mgjptgjga1mgj22gtpm45!magtgjm0go64ki? :D
Sorry i know it is just a bit... :D yet i am curious to know

I would picture a MuG, pouring its contents onto the 10th Doctor's trench coat (janis JoPlin gave it to him). Then I'd have a TiGer drinking from a JuG of water. Next I'd picture A1 steak sauce, another MuG. Next would be Jesus, then Bilbo Baggins (my Person for 22). Next would be a GoaT, the moon with a clock (P.M. is night time), then Doctor Evazan (this guy from Star Wars - my person for 45), an umbrella (the image I use in poetry for an exclamation point), a MAGgot, a TiGer, some strawberry JaM, an orange (my image for a single #0), a GO-kart, a JuDoon [platoon upon the moon] (my person for 64), and then finally a KIte.

I'd picture all of these on a journey/at loci, of course.

19 July, 2013 - 07:18
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What is the most effective method to memorise usable information?(for exams etc.)
Which book would you recommend? (Guess i couldnt find: How to pass exams from dominic).

regards

20 July, 2013 - 13:28
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Memo wrote:
When I try to memorize using the journey method, it takes me a long time.

If I have to memorize a list of random words the algorithm is:

1. I read the first word and visualize it: the object, the color, the size ( Ex: the carrot It takes me around 1-2s )
2. I go to my journey and see the first place (in my memory) (Ex: Billa supermarket. It takes me around 1-2s)
3. I try to link the carrot to the Billa supermarket using minimum 3 senses. Right? (It takes me around 3s)
And so on for the next items...

So, for a single item, the cost is around minimum 6 seconds....and when I try to memorize all the items, the time is increasing with random unwanted delays :(

Please tell me:
1. It's normal this time for a beginner in the journey method ?
2. If yes, it's possible to compress the time for the above example? What is your time to link the item to the place like in the above example?
3. Is my algorithm correct? If not, why? Where am I going wrong?

Any other suggestions are welcome from everybody.

Guys, let's talk a little more "concrete" to increase our brain power. It's a forum, not a book :bigsmile: Let's make big steps H)

I think that kind of time is about normal for a beginner, yes. Obviously it varies from one person to another, but that's the kind of thing I've heard from a lot of people.

The best way to speed up is not to think about the algorithm! If you stop and think to yourself "Now, how can I link this carrot to the supermarket using at least three senses?" it's always going to be a slow process. Personally, I've never done that, but then I've only ever memorised things quickly rather than long term. I suppose if you're wanting to memorise your list so that you'll remember it forever, it's a good idea to be more thorough.

I don't 'link' my items to my locations. I just see the location more as a backdrop - I link my items to the next item on the list, and the location just acts as a sort of backup, to make sure I remember the order. I also don't concentrate on visualising the images so much - I've heard the 'minimum three senses' thing before, but I don't know anyone who actually does that.

All of these things, I think, will just fix themselves with a little bit of practice. The more lists you memorise, the faster you'll get, and the less you'll be consciously thinking about the algorithm! It'll all become an automatic process. I think you're on the right track, just don't think about the method so much. Good luck! :)

20 July, 2013 - 13:49
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hanselder wrote:
Would appreciate more insightes of an pro like op.

More questions:
A chronoligical to do list to become good in as short time as possible.
Stuff Op helped the most or books who contains everything we need to know. (helped op the most)
Could Op become one of the best in 2014?
Why not?
What changed in terms of competition? Why?

I really do like being called 'Op'. Makes me think of Optimus Prime. But I prefer 'Ben' or 'Zoomy' :)

Now, 'become good in a short a time as possible' is something that a lot of people aim for, and it's great, but a lot of them are looking for a secret short-cut that will make them a memory expert without having to do any work, and I'm afraid there's no such thing.

The best way to become good quickly is to go to a memory competition, talk to other competitors, and most importantly have fun! Because doing those things will motivate you to learn the techniques, practice them and know exactly what you're going to use them for. Trying to learn memory techniques without a concrete goal in mind doesn't really work, but if you've got targets like world records or beating some rival in a championship, it works a whole lot better.

Books? Well, I've only ever bought one memory book - "Use Your Memory" by Tony Buzan. And I've still only read two chapters of it, the ones on remembering cards and remembering numbers. That taught me the journey method and the Major system, and really, that's all you need to know - the basic principles, which can be found on this website or anywhere else on the internet! Everything else is just window-dressing, and the important part is taking the basic principles and using them for whatever your goals are.

I think I still count as 'one of the best' - I've only fallen down to number five on the ranking list... :) But the only way I could become really one of the best again in 2014 is if I rediscover some motivation to do all the hard work and training that would take. I don't think the World Memory Champion level has yet got high enough that it's beyond the limits of my brain - it's still possible for me to win it again, with a lot of effort, but I just lack a certain something that drives me to do it. Dominic O'Brien told me he suffers from the same problem - maybe we need to get together and develop a rivalry...

What's changed in competitions? Well, it's a whole lot more international nowadays. The original rules were thought up when it was still a basically English-speaking thing, so they've had to be adjusted to take account of different languages, and there are still problems that need to be fixed, so I'm sure they'll be adjusted some more. And with this international growth come much, much higher scores, and a whole lot more competitors and competitions. It's all got so much bigger since I started.

20 July, 2013 - 13:54
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ickathu wrote:
How would you advise me to learn my PAO 00-99 system? Is it better to use something like Anki and learn ~20 a day for 5 days or to just start memorizing digits with a cheat sheet in front of me until I learn them all?
Same thing for cards, how would you advise me to learn them? (although its probably the same as with the digits)

I don't actually know what Anki means. I have a feeling that I probably should, but there's all kinds of memory jargon that means nothing to me. Sorry!

What I did when I was remembering my list of images was have a cheat sheet. Just practice running through the list in your head, and look down at the sheet only when you really can't remember what your person/action/object was. The point of the Major system or whatever you're using is that the number itself should give you a clue about what the image is, so in most cases you should be able to remember it after a moment or two's hard thought. And if you keep on and on running through that list in your head until it all comes to you straight away, that's the best way to remember.

Then, if you're memorising numbers and you get stuck on an image, you can go back to the list in your head, start at 00 or 20 or 50 or whatever starting point is closest to the one you're stuck on, and it should (hopefully) come back to you. I still have to do that on rare occasions with one of my 2704 images, even after ten years... :)

20 July, 2013 - 13:58
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mahmoud abdalsaleh wrote:
Hi ben :)
Simple question : if I review some images in one file so many times that the image immediatly come in my head when I think in that file .. Will that affect ( in a bad way ) other images that I put them in the same file at another day but without review ? Or that help my brain separating the images that help me to remember it all ^_^

It will probably be a good thing rather than a bad thing - it gives you more images to link the new ones to. As long as things don't get too overloaded and confused, it's always helpful to have automatic associations that pop into your head without needing to think about them!

20 July, 2013 - 14:06
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hanselder wrote:
What is the most effective method to memorise usable information?(for exams etc.)
Which book would you recommend? (Guess i couldnt find: How to pass exams from dominic).

regards

This is the important point I like to stress here - I'm not an expert on memorising useful information! The only thing I'm really good for is remembering completely useless information; long numbers, packs of cards and so on. :)

And like I said above, I can't really recommend any memory books, because I've never really read any. I think they're all basically the same thing, but Dominic certainly knows what he's talking about, so if you can find his book, that's probably a good one.

I've never used mnemonics to pass exams. I'm sure that the usual technique of turning things into memorable images and associating them together can only be a good thing, but all I can do here is report hearsay... :)

20 July, 2013 - 14:07
WJW
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Quote from Anki wiki...

"Anki is a spaced repetition flashcard program. The software is similar to SuperMemo, a commercial product for the same purpose, and Mnemosyne, another free flashcard program."

You can basically drag and drop any picture or wording into it and it will plan your "training" for you... Works well on Apple or Android based handheld evinces.

20 July, 2013 - 14:21
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khuram wrote:
Hi Ben how will you memorise this
Mgjptgjga1mgj22gtpm45!magtgjm0go64ki? :D
Sorry i know it is just a bit... :D yet i am curious to know

I can't offer any better insight than ickathu came up with, I'm afraid. There's really no other way to remember something like this except for the usual techniques - I don't have secret memory champion techniques that nobody else knows about...

One thing I do when I'm memorising a string of letters and numbers is to turn the numbers into letters according to the 'Ben System' (vowels or consonants, whatever fits best) and turn it into my usual images as much as possible.

So 'ga1' becomes 'gat', which becomes my normal 611 image (a Gatling gun), and m45 becomes a gangster's moll - and since there's an exclamation mark after it, it's a particularly dramatic moll, somehow! I find that the act of changing a number into a letter in that way makes it stick in my head that, yes, it was originally a number, so I don't have a problem with recalling it as a letter by mistake.

And I'd pick out any useful ways to compress it, if any, just to reduce the number of images I need to think of.

For example, I notice that every time a j appears in that list, it's immediately preceded by a g. So now that I've noticed that, I only need to remember the j, and when I'm recalling it, just put a g in front of it.

I might also combine certain combinations into words, if that's what comes into my head. The last six numbers/letters in the sequence automatically make me think "go jockey!" (647 in my head is 'jock strap', if you put an i on the end of jock, it sounds like 'jockey' - and again, I'm thinking 'jocki' in my head, so I'll remember that it ends with an i, even if I'm picturing a jockey.

I think that a lot of what I do here isn't to be recommended to everyone, and might go horribly wrong if someone else tries to apply these 'rules' to how to memorise things. The really important rule is 'do what feels natural to you'!

20 July, 2013 - 14:24
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WJW wrote:
Quote from Anki wiki...

"Anki is a spaced repetition flashcard program. The software is similar to SuperMemo, a commercial product for the same purpose, and Mnemosyne, another free flashcard program."

You can basically drag and drop any picture or wording into it and it will plan your "training" for you... Works well on Apple or Android based handheld evinces.

Thanks! Sounds a bit too high-tech for me. I can't imagine remembering anything with the aid of a flashcard program - give me a piece of paper for a cheat sheet any day! :)

20 July, 2013 - 14:40
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hanselder wrote:
a guide about hot wo manipulate images would be greate.
Make our pictures(images from imaginations)
manipulate them:
changing
size, colour, adding and removing stuff/pictures, seeing pictures in detail, rough, zooming in and out etc. etc.

Manipulation scenes (imaginations)
How to add a new thing, how to delete something.
How to expand a scene, how to reduce a scene
Change size, colors
Getting it more detailed or rougher(more general)

The idea of seeing pictures in detail or not is a very interesting (and important) one, I think. When I remember an image, it's often very vague, but if I want to stop and think about it, I can visualise it in really close-up detail. With locations, especially, a lot of my journeys are very sketchy, but sometimes I do like to think about the places and try to remember what they're "really" like. I find that I can start with a small place, and sort of move out, seeing little details like the texture of the walls, any little features in a room that I really haven't thought about for years...

A lot of my images are nothing like the things they're based on, so I've changed a lot of sizes and colours over the years, but it hasn't really been a deliberate part of the process, just the way my mind works. It's a bit hard to explain...

I'm a little bit scared to use words like 'illogical', looking at certain other posts in this forum, but what the heck - illogical can be good! :) There's really no logic to the shape or sequence of a few of my locations and journeys, for example, it doesn't correspond to the real-life places they're based on, but if things have been twisted, expanded, contracted, or distorted in my brain, I see that as a good thing. It makes things more memorable.

I think the best guideline I can offer (and I know I've said this kind of thing a lot, but I happen to think it's the only really good advice) is to do what your own individual brain wants to do, because everyone's brain is different. Let your subconscious decide how to manipulate your images, and don't consciously think about it!

20 July, 2013 - 15:28
WJW
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Ben:

I was watching Speed Cards 2012... and I have two questions for you...

1. What do you think about just before you start? Meaning do you clear your mind, run through lists, count down, try not to get the yips (golf term meaning freezing up over a putt)? The reason I was asking is that I believe this is one of the only events that you decide when you start.

2. I saw you shuffling for somebody else (at least it looked like you.) Is that out of the ordinary or just a common courtesy?

3. No tuxes at these events? Everyone there seemed to be rockin' the t shirts ;-)

Jim

20 July, 2013 - 15:45
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WJW wrote:
Ben:

I was watching Speed Cards 2012... and I have two questions for you...

1. What do you think about just before you start? Meaning do you clear your mind, run through lists, count down, try not to get the yips (golf term meaning freezing up over a putt)? The reason I was asking is that I believe this is one of the only events that you decide when you start.

2. I saw you shuffling for somebody else (at least it looked like you.) Is that out of the ordinary or just a common courtesy?

3. No tuxes at these events? Everyone there seemed to be rockin' the t shirts ;-)

Jim

That's three questions, not two. But that's okay. :)

1) In the 60 seconds of mental preparation time, I run through the journey I'm going to use (one pack is nine locations for me) two or three times. I normally pick up the pack and put my hands on the timer after about 30 seconds or so, then I basically blank my brain out and just wait for the start, without thinking anything.

I almost always start at the moment when the immortal words "Neurons on the ready... go!" are spoken, and that's because when I've finished memorising I like to have as much time as possible to try to remember the cards - I go through the journey I've just memorised, and I try to fill in the blanks. I like to pick a card that I'm fairly sure isn't in any of the images I can remember, and run through all the images that use that card, to see if it prompts a memory. It's easier to fill blanks during the recall time, when I can see which cards are left over, but every little helps.

On the rare occasions when I remember all 26 images instantly without any blanks, I just try not to let my mind wander...

2) It's not normal procedure, but it's not unusual. At the world championship the speed cards is split into two groups (first the bottom half of the leaderboard, then the top), so that everyone can be watched and have their cards shuffled by an arbiter - they're usually short of arbiters, so the last couple of world championships I've been to, I've helped with the arbiting of the group I'm not in. It helps pass the time - other competitors like to go away and prepare themselves, I find that waiting around is something I just don't like...

3) I think it's best to dress for comfort... or for good luck. I always wear my lucky t-shirt on the final day of competitions, and my hat, and my non-matching socks. I'm not superstitious, I'm just generally weird.

In the olden days, tuxedos were the thing, as popularised by Dominic. But the 'smart' dress code hasn't been tried for a few years now - and the last time it was, everyone just ignored it. In 2004, when Dominic wasn't there, I made everyone laugh by wearing a t-shirt that looks like a tuxedo. :)

21 July, 2013 - 03:59
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Hi Ben,

When you do long cards (30 minute, 1 hour and maybe 10 minutes) do you slow down to try and get every image or do you still stick to the same principals as you do with speed cards and try to fill in the gaps. I know you constantly review when your memorizing, but I thought you may be taking a little more time with the images with the longer events.

Regards

Daz

21 July, 2013 - 04:11
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Damalis wrote:
When you do long cards (30 minute, 1 hour and maybe 10 minutes) do you slow down to try and get every image or do you still stick to the same principals as you do with speed cards and try to fill in the gaps. I know you constantly review when your memorizing, but I thought you may be taking a little more time with the images with the longer events.

I go through the pack at about the same speed as I do with speed cards, maybe a little bit slower. I look through three packs, then review them, then move on to the next three packs, review those, and so on. I normally figure that 3-4 minutes is the right kind of time to look through three packs twice, which is probably slowed down a bit from doing speed cards at my absolute fastest, but it's not a case of taking more time with the images, just pacing myself for the long memorising time.

After about 35-40 minutes, I stop memorising new things, go back to the beginning and revise the whole lot again, from start to end, ideally twice or three times.

21 July, 2013 - 04:37
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When you memorize Binary digits, do you scan ten numbers considering the groups of 4-3-3 in order to identify the image, or do the individual groups of ten pop out at you the same way a word or a 3-digit number does? From an outsider's perspective, it looks like it is much easier to make mistakes when encoding binary than with cards or digits, has that been your experience?

If you recognize each of the 1024 images distinctly and as a whole, what was your most useful method training to reach that end?

21 July, 2013 - 04:50
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DoubleHelix wrote:
When you memorize Binary digits, do you scan ten numbers considering the groups of 4-3-3 in order to identify the image, or do the individual groups of ten pop out at you the same way a word or a 3-digit number does? From an outsider's perspective, it looks like it is much easier to make mistakes when encoding binary than with cards or digits, has that been your experience?

If you recognize each of the 1024 images distinctly and as a whole, what was your most useful method training to reach that end?

I still have to look at the 4-3-3 - it's not as quick a process as reading a 3-digit number. I draw lines down the page to divide it into 4-3-3-4-3-3-4-3-3 (I really should switch to using a transparency, but I'm terrible at advance planning), although I can read the digits without doing that, like in the Memoriad or the Online Memory Challenge. But I still need to see the individual groups, and spell out the words. I do it quickly, and I don't often mis-read them, but it does happen from time to time.

I would like to be able to just scan the whole group of ten, and maybe one day I'll figure it out, but right now it's beyond me... :)

21 July, 2013 - 18:37
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You could at least learn the palindromes.

23 July, 2013 - 05:27
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If 42 is the answer to the ultimate question of Life, the Universe, and Everything Else, then what is the answer in the Ben System? (Hope you get the reference... :P)

How about your account of the 2003 WMC? Is it still coming?

23 July, 2013 - 11:11
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23 July, 2013 - 12:39
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Hi Ben,

i have a question about your system. In this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_KlsQxf_UE) i see you read the cards from the bottom to the top. Your system is organized that the suits come first and then the first number and the second number of the cards. Do you think it's a problem that you must see the two cards at first to get the first letter?
When you read the deck from bottom, you see the last letter of your system first. For example you have SaB.

B = the second card numb
a = the first card number
S = the suits combination.

Do you think this is a problem of time that you must read the cards in this way?

Do you think it's faster to read the first card and then the second card?

For example:

SaBr

S = suit first card
a = number first card
B = suit second card
r = number second card

Best wishes! :)

23 July, 2013 - 13:29
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i have a question about your system. In this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_KlsQxf_UE) i see you read the cards from the bottom to the top. Your system is organized that the suits come first and then the first number and the second number of the cards. Do you think it's a problem that you must see the two cards at first to get the first letter?
When you read the deck from bottom, you see the last letter of your system first. For example you have SaB.

B = the second card numb
a = the first card number
S = the suits combination.

Do you think this is a problem of time that you must read the cards in this way?

Do you think it's faster to read the first card and then the second card?

For example:

SaBr

S = suit first card
a = number first card
B = suit second card
r = number second card

I actually read the cards starting with the first one. I'm holding the pack upside-down there, and starting from the top. So I look at two cards at a time, with the first card on the left and underneath the second.

I honestly have never felt it slowed me down to have to look at the two suits first - I really do see both cards at the same time, register the suits and then look at the individual numbers. It sounds strange, I know, but that's what works for me. And if there was a separate consonant sound for each individual suit, that only gives us four possibilities, which means every image on the list would have to start with one of four possible sounds, which is a bit restrictive...

23 July, 2013 - 16:33
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Why aren't you at the top of the game anymore?

23 July, 2013 - 23:06
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Lack of motivation is the main thing. I haven't been serious about training for about five years now, sad to say. And of course everyone else keeps getting better, so what used to be a top-of-the-game level is a lot more mediocre nowadays...

24 July, 2013 - 04:34
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Zoomy wrote:
I don't 'link' my items to my locations. I just see the location more as a backdrop - I link my items to the next item on the list, and the location just acts as a sort of backup, to make sure I remember the order.

Hi Ben
Thanks for your comments and tips.
I fear I am probably trespassing against what I feel is your good advice not to overanalyze and just get on and practice but I am just interested.

I believe you place three images at each locus and try to link them up to each other in a top to bottom or left to right order. Reading the above comment it seems you also link the last image in one locus to the first image in the next so that you have one long continuous interaction. Am I corrrect or do you ever break the chain and rely on the locus alone to prompt the image which is the case with PAO systems?

I am also interested in any tips for making interactions between images.
When I string together three images I often find that the interaction of the first image on the second one will interfere with the usual interaction between the second and third image. This may be a disadvantage of the Ben system when compared to the PAO system in which the interaction (or action) is more regulated. I see from a recent post by Double Helix that he also has a problem with three images in one locus.

I love examples and would be pleased if you could give us an idea for how you would string together some images and interactions for numbers. For example: 279 081 277 309 289 329

24 July, 2013 - 07:40
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Memo wrote:
What about a technical text...like this, for example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TCP/IP
Here are many, many keywords to memorize. Right?

It depends on the "density" of the information. For example, if you read a 200 page self-help book, you might be able to summarize the book by remembering only 5 key points. But if you need to memorize the TCP protocol, it may take hundreds of data points to memorize everything accurately.

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