Tag Archives: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

Creating More Memorable Memories

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@larrykim has an interesting article on memory and memory formation called “Want to Improve Your Memory? Science Tells Us the Key (and It Can Actually Be Fun).”

I’ve long been fascinated by memory. From mnemonics (devices for aiding one’s memory) to art (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Blade Runner both posited the question of whether implanted memories made a person inhuman) to science and health (does the onset of Alzheimer’s, for example, take away our humanity/humanness?) to  why long-term memories can sometimes be stronger than short-term memories.

Ancient Greeks and Romans were drawn to mnemonics for the obvious reason of retaining more information, but also because they believed it made them better orators. I read once that the origin of mnemonics came from a house fire in ancient Athens. Everybody who was present perished in the blaze except for one man. Amazingly, he was able to identify the charred corpses of the dead based on nothing more than their location within the house. Thus, it’s no surprise that early instructors of mnemonics used the analogy of the rooms/walls/doors/widows in a house to compartmentalize the acquisition of knowledge.

But back to Mr. Kim’s article and his advice for giving your mind a good ol’ lube job:

Try these tips for improving your recall when you want to remember important information:

  • Distract yourself. You might feel like you’re being super productive and focused by sticking to your work, but you’re less likely to recall it later.You’re not a bad person for taking a two-minute YouTube break, and for crying out loud, stop buying into the myth that multitasking = greater productivity.

  • Celebrate quick wins. Dopamine is released when you finish something, so have a list of small tasks you can tackle to get some quick wins in throughout the day.

  • Take regular body breaks. Get a jump rope. Run up a flight of office stairs. Even if all you have time to do in get up and do 10 jumping jacks beside the desk, you’re giving yourself a little boost of endorphins and dopamine.(Bonus: it’ll make you more creative, too.)

  • Take the opportunity to try something new. It doesn’t have to mean learning a whole new skill. Maybe it’s a sensory surprise — run your hands over different materials, or go outside when it’s cold and come back in. Maybe (outside of a scent-free workplace) it means a warmer with different scented oils. The point is to create change in your workspace so it’s not always the same old, same old.


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Memory, C-beams & The Fragility of the Human Condition

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99 percent of every person is the memory of what he or she knows. What you remember about your life is what makes you you, and me me. Take away my memories, and what is left? My nose. My glasses. Even my jokes will not be the same if I don’t have a memory.” — Stepan Pachikov

Ever since watching Blade Runner* as a kid – and subsequently reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick – I knew I wasn’t alone in a near-obsession-like fascination with memory. Silicon Valley pioneer, visionary, and Evernote founder Stepan Pachikov shares this same trait. Only, he has done, is doing, and will continue to do something about it.

Senior copywriter for @Evernote Pamela Rosen (@Pambieworld) wrote a moving, compelling and stop-drinking-your-coffee-right-freaking-now-and-finish-this-damn piece on Mr. Pachikov entitled “On Preserving Human Memory: Evernote Founder’s Impossible Mission.”

Per the blog post by Ms. Rosen, who actually works at Evernote and knows Mr. Pachikov, “As the inventor and founder of Evernote, Pachikov’s life work has been the human memory, untangling personal thoughts from the greater narrative of history, and then putting the particles back together again for future generations. It’s an obsession that goes back to his youth, before the collapse of the Soviet Union.”

Mr. Pachikov takes this one step further and opines philosophically, “When we decide about good and evil, it’s really about memory. Civilizations are so easy to destroy. It’s our mission, our goal, to protect life, and all we have is memories, so we have to protect them.”

While Stepan Pachikov and Evernote will relentlessly move forward on the tech side to preserve human memory, the more literary-inclined will continue to cherish great books that make us think more profoundly about this critical issue. If you’re looking for a list of works on the subject, check out a piece from The Guardian in which author Charles Fernyhough put together his “Top 10 books on memory” a few years ago. I know that I, for one, am intrigued at the selections on this list.


* You know a film – a specific scene or line, in fact – has moved you when, decades later, you can still recite it from memory. Rutger Hauer’s final moment onscreen – what the Welsh writer and philosopher Mark Rowlands once called “perhaps the most moving death soliloquy in cinematic history” – is one such example, a passage Hauer himself wrote and delivered with universe-shaking conviction, the “Tears in Rain” monologue:

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”



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