> If I have one piece of advice, it’s “learn to recognize the subtle drag of something requiring your attention.”
This really resonated with me, but perhaps not in the exact same way as the author. I've recently become more consciously aware of how I react when reading more complex text or parsing more complex points.
I read along at a fairly constant speed, not having much trouble following the author's mental model. But at some point the complexity seems to grow beyond what I can comfortably hold in my head without stopping and really trying to parse what's on the page in front of me.
I can react to this difficulty in two ways:
1. I let the inertia carry me past the sentence, not really grokking it, instead it becomes a sort of buzz in my mental model (or a 'drag' in the author's words), something like step 2 in south park's famous step 1: do something - step 2: ??? - step 3: profit. I continue on with the text, but now my understanding of it is compromised.
2. I recognize what I'm doing, stop reading, and start re-reading the sentence much more slowly. Look at the surrounding text for illuminating context (sometimes this snag isn't because it's an overly complex point, it's just a poorly structured sentence and the next line clears it up). I may need to start taking notes to parse it.
My problem is I'm quite lazy (and I'm usually reading in bed to relax) and tend to default to strategy 1. But I'm trying to change that bad habit and react with strategy 2.
So I do what you say, except it's much more deliberate than just "slow down" and "re-read". I try to break the concepts down into chunks, and focus on being able to recall specific things about each chunk. First I convince myself that each chunk makes sense in isolation, and then what its "contract" is (how it interacts with related concepts and fits into the bigger picture). When I can easily recall both of those in a coherent way, I'm ready to move on. I use a variety of ways to practice recall, depending on whatever's most ergonomic (Anki, study sheet, deliberate practice, etc.). Sometimes I find that I lack enough understanding of other concepts to really understand a chunk, so I have to go recursively do the same thing for other concepts.
So I see it as more of a memory problem and not "understanding". I don't really know what "understanding" means, to me it's all just memory--memorizing why something is true/makes sense (by relating it to stuff I already know/memorized), and then memorizing how that thing fits into other contexts. If I can't load that stuff quickly into my working memory, then I don't "understand" it.
I experience the running out of RAM problem that you describe as well and take basically the same approach to you.
That's much closer to how I read code.
My issue really is just a tendency to keep reading even if I didn't actually parse the sentence properly. It seems to be a complexity threshold rather than a volume one.
I think it's just what happens when I try to read a text at the top of, or beyond, my reading level. I imagine that anyone who struggled in school with reading comprehension may have a similar experience, or perhaps its like that feeling when you read a garden path sentence.
I struggled to even recognize that I was facing this issue because I found reading very easy during school. Facing a text that was too difficult to instantly parse and understand was rare enough that I never had to develop the mental tools to deal with it.
This has devolved to reading the same section over and over again a few times, but I think that's usually because the author made a logical leap that I had a problem with, or simply that I wasn't as interested in the subject as I thought I was.
Reading through can give you an understand of the larger picture of what the author is saying which can help you when you go back and re-read the part that you stumbled on. This might be especially true if you feel like it’s a point where it’s gotten too unwieldy or complex. That may be a sign you don’t yet have the necessary basis or metaphor for the idea as presented.
* stopping all progress until you fully understand the point
* continue moving forward so you don't get stuck and give up
Interestingly I've found that leaning towards 'just keep going' seems to be more effective when learning a second language. Whereas slowing down and doing some background reading helps much more with technical topics.
Language seems much more natural to learn from pure exposure. So easy a baby can do it :)
I still can't make sense of what they're talking about half the time despite being on the other side of it, regularly using concepts they try to explain, but I let my inability to follow that way of explaining be a road block to learning-by-doing for way too long.
See also: math. I thought I was bad at it! It turns out the books in school and the teachers just didn't teach it in a way I could follow. It's a weird inversion of my usual problem. For most things, I learn best with text and illustration and struggle to follow videos. For math, I can't follow text and most illustrations might as well be blank, but videos work. It's the same with music: I made most of my progress from watching videos.
I would implore anyone who thinks they're "bad at math" or they "can't learn to make music", or anything they struggle with, to skip the ways they've tried in the past and go at it from another angle. There are so many angles. So many.
Now, I read differently, where I _read to finish_; I try to minimize the time-to-big-picture.
Ive found reading with a pen or pencil to be helpful. I also sometimes prematurely seek out an answer to some piece of text that’s expounded on a few lines later. So my recipe now is, open book (or whatever), write the date and time, read the table of contents, read through and annotate, write questions and answers in the margins, and get to the other cover quickly; each time I pick up the text I read over something I previously noted (in fifo order). These second passes are slow, the first pass continues at the same speed.
The most highly regarded advice to breaking through into fluency is to break the habit of re-reading just as you get into trouble, or breaking off to look up a word. Instead, push through to the end of the sentence, holding as much of it in your head as possible, and being ready to re-interpret any chunks (phrases or clauses) that might admit of more than one interpretation. When you've reached the end of the sentence, consider what you think was meant by it. Only then, go back and re-read the sentence. In some cases, it may be necessary to read more than a single sentence together.
At any rate, I think a lot of people agree with your observation.
Often, knowing the direction the author is going to go helps in understanding why the author explains something a certain way.
Highly recommended if you’re doing any non-fiction reading.
Take a screenshot/copy text. Paste in any email client.
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You can screenshot and share to the app or copy ¬» paste » append notes/ comments
> about Walder's law: the bulk of discussion on programming language
> design centers on syntax (which, for purposes of the argument, is
> considered a solved problem), as opposed to semantics.
echo -e "\n$text" >> ~/Dropbox/writing/notes/learned.txt
For example, if you're studying to retain information for educational purposes (and reproduce in an exam environment) then research has indicated that reading and rereading have the lowest utility (return on time invested) in the 10 common strategies used by students. The strategy offering the highest utility was practice testing under exam conditions.
If you are reading to learn about a topic that requires you to retain information in a sequential manner, then using learning techniques such as a memory palace can be helpful. This is a technique that allows you to picture a room you know very well and associate blocks of information with objects in that room while you are learning. It's a very common way to deal with performance anxiety which manifests as blank memory.
I'm happy to share some thoughts on potential approaches if you offer some clarity on what your desired outcome is.
Thanks for previously posting that link to the 10 strategies in your reply below!
And this is the more formal research:
Rereading my summary gives me an impression of how well I understood a topic. If it is just incoherent rumblings, I probably should revisit the topics in question. So it can also be a good self test.
Such an iterative approach takes time though...
this is the best writing about reading I've read recently
Flow disruption, in the case of self-paced learning, is likely a good thing, even though it feels like it's slowing you down. Even though it _is_ slowing you down. The act of getting back into the flow requires some level of retrieval from long term memory, and retrieval is practice at remembering. So anything that helps you practice remembering what you just read is useful, and anything that helps you read more pages per hour but does nothing to change how much you remember per hour is wasteful.
Seriously. I read a lot and I would completely drown if I was taking notes of anything that I am interested with. The only thing I really want to note is my own index system where I have a document with keywords and list of links, books, documents, other resources where I have seen this thing. Rarely a small note -- once I find the reference I am usually able to recall what the reference was about.
I have two types of reference stores.
1. My global index. This is one bag of huge amount of keywords and links. The storage works like this: I enter the reference (which is basically any free text, usually a link). I enter a number of words, terms I might be trying to look it up in the future, name of context I am researching this reference for (for example name of project I am working on atm). Later when I don't remember the reference I may be able to recall I have worked on some particular project and use the name of the project to help me find the reference.
2. My project index. This is typically a document listing design/decision details I made for a particular project with references to materials. For example, I might have decided to use a particular board component and then have a reference to digikey/mouser part, reference to specs, reference to any number of designs I found on the internet that include the part, etc.
In that case, a "dumb" LCD writing pad such as the Boogie Board would be enough. I'm not sure if I want to hassle with a more expensive and complex system such as a drawing tablet, which would be an alternative.
Similarly, for programming I understand comcepts better by playing with some code rather than dryly following line by line on the text. I think it depends on the book, I found myself reading form SICP without much interruption. It’s a certain pace that I enjoy
Basically I do the same using Kindle, with the plus of getting everything on my email after, for reviewing.
This is my Aha! moment.