"Every perception is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination."
-- Gerald Edelman, Second Nature: Brain Science and Human Knowledge
1 Avoid orphan cards:3 Avoid orphan cards:Avoid orphan cards:Improving the mnemonic medium: making better cardsHow can we develop transformative tools for thought？2020-10-18Journal
Indeed, thinking in this way is one reason spaced-repetition memory systems often fail for individuals. We often meet people who say “Oh, I thought spaced repetition sounded great, and I tried Anki \[etc\], but it doesn't work for me”. Dig down a little, and it turns out the person is using their memory system in a way guaranteed to fail. They'll be writing terrible questions, or using it to learn a subject they don't care about, or making some other error. They're a little like a person who thinks “learning the guitar sounds great”, picks it up for half an hour, and then puts it down, saying that they sound terrible and therefore it's a bad instrument. Of course, what's really going on is that the guitar and memory systems are both skills that take time to develop. But, with that said, we want to build as much support as possible into the medium. Ideally, even novices would benefit tremendously from the mnemonic medium. That means building in many ideas that go beyond the simplistic model of spaced repetition.