Procedural essay examples



One day in the mid-1920s, a Moscow newspaper reporter named Solomon Shereshevsky entered the laboratory of the psychologist Alexander Luria. Shereshevsky’s boss at the newspaper had noticed that Shereshevsky never needed to take any notes, but somehow still procedural essay examples all he was told, and had suggested he get his memory checked by an expert. He began with simple tests, short strings of words and of numbers.

Shereshevsky remembered these with ease, and so Luria gradually increased the length of the strings. But no matter how long they got, Shereshevsky could recite them back. Fascinated, Luria went on to study Shereshevsky’s memory for the next 30 years. Experiments indicated that he had no difficulty reproducing any lengthy series of words whatever, even though these had originally been presented to him a week, a month, a year, or even many years earlier. Given how central memory is to our thinking, it’s natural to ask whether computers can be used as tools to help improve our memory. This question turns out to be highly generative of good ideas, and pursuing it has led to many of the most important vision documents in the history of computing.

A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory. These are just a few of the many attempts to use computers to augment human memory. In this essay we investigate personal memory systems, that is, systems designed to improve the long-term memory of a single person. In the first part of the essay I describe my personal experience using such a system, named Anki. As we’ll see, Anki can be used to remember almost anything.

That is, Anki makes memory a choice, rather than a haphazard event, to be left to chance. I’ll discuss how to use Anki to understand research papers, books, and much else. The second part of the essay discusses personal memory systems in general. I’ll argue against this point of view, and make a case that memory is central to problem solving and creativity.

The essay is unusual in style. It’s not a conventional cognitive science paper, i. Nor is it a computer systems design paper, though prototyping systems is my own main interest. Rather, the essay is a distillation of informal, ad hoc observations and rules of thumb about how personal memory systems work. I wanted to understand those as preparation for building systems of my own. To conclude this introduction, a few words on what the essay won’t cover. I will only briefly discuss visualization techniques such as memory palaces and the method of loci.