Pretty Pictures

Monkey fools Ninja.
The Week of Memory is in full-swing and hopefully you're getting some useful tips for making ideas stick.  So far, we've exploited the memory palace concept, introduced novelty, linked linguistically, and added detail, all in the hope of creating vivid, memorable memories.  Today, we're going to live the phrase: "A picture is worth a thousand words."  Let's look at some pictures, shall we?

When I was in college, and the professor assigned some reading, you know what I would do?  I'd read.  I'd read all the words I could.  At some point, I would decide: "I don't like all this reading, it's hard." And, then I would watch TV.

Looking back, I wish I had been there to save myself from myself.  I wish I could have read my own blog for the robot-crushing tip I'm about to reveal.  When we have something to "read" we shouldn't read at all.  We should look at the pictures instead.

This whole week, we've discussed the power of visual imagery in promoting strong memories.  So many textbooks, journal articles, technical books, and more have a ton of images.  Is it just me, or are the pictures the last thing we look at?  I don't know why, but it felt like "cheating" to not read and just look at the pictures, but that's just dumb.  The pictures are the quickest, easiest, and most memorable way to learn new material.  Look at the pictures first!  I've found that often, the pictures provide 90% of the useful information and can be absorbed in a fraction of the time as text.

Pretty Pictures

Task: Scan all the pictures first in a technical document that you need to learn.

Info: Articles normally have charts and graphs, magazines normally have diagrams, books normally have tables.  Before doing all the hard work of actually reading something, take five minutes and just look at the pictures.  Maybe you won't understand all of what's going on without reading, but you'll be getting a quick snapshot of all the relevant info in a series of easy-to-remember images.  Then, when you do read, the information will have a detailed mental framework to be placed into.  Easy!

Goal: Gauge what percentage of the important information is in the pictures.

Hopefully The Happy Homunculus is giving you all the metacognition that you need.  If so, take a minute to show your support.  Thanks!


Heidi Smith Luedtke said...

So true. I use mind mapping to organize my own thoughts before writing and find it much more powerful than outlining. Something about laying out information visually forces me to process it in a completely different way. Once I've visualized it, I can write much more fluidly.

Vince Panzano said...

Exactly! Visual representations just stick. More details, more modes of representations (words, links, nodes, structures), more memorability!

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