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General Useful Knowledge to SRS

#1
I'm soliciting ideas for some things to SRS that would be useful to know off the top of my head.  Things like important dates in history, GDPs, capitals and populations of certain countries, /r/lifeprotips, certain resonant quotes, how many feet in a mile, speed of sound, etc..  Hopefully it's not too trivial, but actually useful and not perishable information like names of certain world leaders, but information that will be useful 10+ years later.

I'll post my deck here if it seems there is interest.
Here is the spreadsheet for anyone who is interested.  I'm still interested in suggestions if someone has any more.

Edit: Some of the stuff I'm putting in the list (eg quotes) I don't intend to memorize as much as contemplate every once in a while. I'll put it into anki with an interval of 6 months or something like that.
Edited: 2017-04-24, 9:01 pm
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#2
(2017-04-19, 5:40 pm)yogert909 Wrote: I'm soliciting ideas for some things to SRS that would be useful to know off the top of my head.  Things like important dates in history, GDPs, capitals and populations of certain countries, /r/lifeprotips, certain resonant quotes, how many feet in a mile, speed of sound, etc..  Hopefully it's not too trivial, but actually useful and not perishable information like names of certain world leaders, but information that will be useful 10+ years later.

I'll post my deck here if it seems there is interest.

How about programming code/syntax for useful stuff like Regular Expressions, or setting up styles in Anki. I find this stuff super useful and easy to learn, but I use it rarely enough that I have to re-learn it practically every time I use it.

Important math formulas might be good candidates as well.
Edited: 2017-04-19, 6:56 pm
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#3
Thanks! Good ones. I was thinking about programming functions, but regex hadn't occurred to me. Math formulas didn't either but I can't think of any that I would use enough to justify memorizing them.. What are some that you would include?
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#4
Yeah, seconding scientific and engineering knowledge:
- Math formulas (Integration patterns, Fourier transforms, trigonometric identities, infinite series, etc.).
- Physics formulas.
- Chemistry (Periodic table, organic compounds, formulas...)
- Astronomical Information (Bodies from the Solar System, constellation names and its main stars...)
- Biology
- Geology
- Engineering
- Architecture
...

Also, technical and/or domain specific vocabulary (I'm thinking more of L1 than L2, but both are interesting):
- Anatomy
- Car / computer / airplanes / boat parts...
- Sports (Rugby positions, track and field vocabulary...)
- Film making / Theater
...

Literature & arts:
- main universal or national writers / philosophers / artists, their most important works, dates, etc.

Symbols, signs, icons, gestures:
- International traffic signs
- Sign language
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#5
Thanks faneca. Lots of good ideas there. Funny you mention boat parts...I recently started taking sailing classes and memorized a few hundred sailing related jargon.

I just thought of a good one. I can identify only maybe 4-5 different tree species in my neighborhood. I'd really like to put names to the other common ones. Ditto for birds.
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#6
If you don't already know them, then all the non-internet IP address spaces  (loopback networks, private networks) as well as the addresses of some public nameservers and timeservers. Turns out, it's hard to check these things on the internet when you're having network configuration problems....

Also the names and .... erm, 'latitudes' of the constellations. (There's a word for north-south angle that isn't latitude, but i forgot... maybe that should be an SRS thing too.) East-west is harder, but the astrology constellations in order should help there. (there's a astronomical name for them too, which I've also forgotten. Hmmm.) Turns out, that checking these things on your smartphone destroys your nightvision and puts a serious crimp in your stargazing time.

The seasonal meteor showers might be good to learn too, as they don't always make the news unless other news is really slow.

I wouldn't discount learning the names of current world leaders as 'temporary' information. They won't still be the current world leaders forver, it's true, but they will remain historically significant figures for our lifetimes, and longer if they have particularly dramatic careers.
Edited: 2017-04-20, 12:41 am
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#7
I can definitely see the use of a deck like that and probably should do one for myself. It's amazing (and sad) how bad I am with stuff other people consider "common knowledge". I remember in school I always liked learning about history but... I'd forget it so fast! I've considered buying or borrowing a bunch of modern school books and putting them into srs, maybe that could be an idea for you as well? Or well maybe not the standard school books but more condensed review books or so.
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#8
(2017-04-20, 4:34 am)sumsum Wrote: I can definitely see the use of a deck like that and probably should do one for myself. It's amazing (and sad) how bad I am with stuff other people consider "common knowledge". I remember in school I always liked learning about history but... I'd forget it so fast! I've considered buying or borrowing a bunch of modern school books and putting them into srs, maybe that could be an idea for you as well? Or well maybe not the standard school books but more condensed review books or so.

I'd be happy to make this a group effort if anyone is interested.

One thing that helped me immensely with world history was learning about art history.  So much about culture, technology, and world events become encapsulated in the art of the time.  Just one example would be the impressionist style had a lot to do with the diffusion of train travel, the invention of photography and collapsable paint tubes.  This all allowed the painters to easily paint landscapes in the field and not feel the need to compete with the precision of the photograph, among other things.
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#9
I've made anki decks outside of language learning. Often with school related things (biology, math, chemistry, art history) and non academic things such as things I need to remember from my food/beverage related jobs (allergens, policies, ingredients, plate specials).

I've also used anki to help memorize a short speech for class presentations.

td; lr: I'm a nerd.
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#10
(2017-04-19, 5:40 pm)yogert909 Wrote: Things like important dates in history, GDPs, capitals and populations of certain countries, /r/lifeprotips, certain resonant quotes, how many feet in a mile, speed of sound, etc.

Problem is, history is not about dates, macro-economics is not about GDP figures, understanding global politics is not about knowing capitals and population numbers, and you can't learn how to live your life from famous quotes. All these things are way more abstract and complex than that.

SRS is for memorizing things. That works well for beginner and intermediate language learners. But it doesn't work for developing an expertise in advanced fields of thought (including the ability to master a foreign language).

Understanding these subjects past high school level is more about abstract thinking than memorizing discrete facts. A good starting point would be Logic, and developing the ability to avoid common logical fallacies. After that, practice makes perfect. Developing the ability to handle highly abstract concepts, without falling into the trap of fallacious thinking, will help you be rational not just when it comes to these subjects, but any complex subject.

(p.s. even in high school, teachers are more likely to be impressed by students who can think about these subjects, than students who are good at memorizing trivial facts...so even high school students wouldn't really be helped by SRS).
Edited: 2017-04-20, 9:34 pm
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#11
(2017-04-20, 9:25 pm)Stansfield123 Wrote: Problem is, history is not about dates, macro-economics is not about GDP figures, understanding global politics is not about knowing capitals and population numbers, and you can't learn how to live your life from famous quotes. All these things are way more abstract and complex than that.

SRS is for memorizing things. That works well for beginner and intermediate language learners. But it doesn't work for developing an expertise in advanced fields of thought (including the ability to master a foreign language).
Well, sure. But just like SRSing vocabulary and grammar patterns gives you a foundation to build your language expertise from, having the basic facts on these other topics helps to build expertise in those topics. Before you can do advanced thinking about the hows and whys, you do have to first know the whats and whens so that you have something to think about in the first place.
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#12
(2017-04-20, 9:25 pm)Stansfield123 Wrote: Problem is, history is not about dates, macro-economics is not about GDP figures, understanding global politics is not about knowing capitals and population numbers, and you can't learn how to live your life from famous quotes. All these things are way more abstract and complex than that.

A: It's stupid that the government sells alcohol when it is so bad for you
B: Probably dates back to prohibition.
A: What's prohibition?

Facts are not the only thing but all the fresh tasty brain power in the world is not very useful without a base knowledge of facts.
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#13
(2017-04-20, 9:25 pm)Stansfield123 Wrote: Problem is, history is not about dates, macro-economics is not about GDP figures, understanding global politics is not about knowing capitals and population numbers, and you can't learn how to live your life from famous quotes. All these things are way more abstract and complex than that.
Well, duh. that goes without saying. However, some declarative facts are useful to have on hand to understand new things that might be abstract and complex.

Consider if I'm listening to a news story on the economy of micronesia, (a country who's economy I know very little about) and I learn that their population is 103,000 and their gdp is roughly 300 million (2,900 per capita). Those numbers are almost meaningless unless I have something to compare them to. If I know the population of Burbank California (or the capacity of a large football stadium) is roughly 100,000 people and GDP of china is 6,500/capita I have a much better sense of the number of people and the level of economic activity in Micronesia.

A real example was the first time I visited Kamakura and learned the daibutsu was completed in 1243. I'm thinking "that's pretty old" but I didn't have much frame of reference until I thought that was during Europe's medieval period and the renaissance was ~150 yeas later. If I don't know some rough dates in history, then the daibutsu is just "old" same as the Pantheon, the Pyramids, and Mick Jagger. And I couldn't even place the daibutsu within a timeline of Japanese history if I didn't know a few dates. Is it before or after the edo period - I don't know unless I know edo period is ~400 years later.

TLDR Dates and statistics are not the whole story, but extremely handy for comparisons.
Edited: 2017-04-21, 4:30 pm
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#14
As a historian, I think of names/dates/memorizable items very much like vocabulary words in a language. If you have ever tried to read a few paragraphs of a scholarly book on a historical field you're not familiar with (or even a good popular book), chances are you have had the experience of feeling like your head is spinning after a few sentences, because you have no idea who any of the people/places are, and it's like reading a novel with 80% comprehension - really frustrating.

A historian doesn't have to keep every detail in their head like a computer, but the greater your familiarity with the material and the greater the precision of your memory, the more clearly you will be able to focus on the analytical thinking part that really matters.

(Just for fun, here's a lecture announcement that crossed my email this week:

This lecture will examine Iranian relations with the Deccan, beginning from the time of the later Bahmanid dynasty, and then extending into the time of the Sultanates of Ahmadnagar, Bijapur and Golkonda. A particular focus will be on the presence of Iranian migrants in the Deccan, some of whom belonged to elite groups such as Sayyids, but who also included far more humble military specialists from Larestan, who used migration as a means to social mobility. A central figure whose career is examined will be that of As'ad Khan Lari in Bijapur (d. 1543), who also features in contemporary Portuguese sources.

Of all the proper nouns in that paragraph, I could identify "Iranian" and "Portugese.")
Edited: 2017-04-21, 9:23 pm
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#15
(2017-04-21, 4:06 pm)tanaquil Wrote: Of all the proper nouns in the that paragraph, I could identify "Iranian" and "Portugese.")

It was a fun example, I felt exactly the same
(...but can't help being pedantic by remarking that "Iranian" and "Portuguese" are adjectives ;-)
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#16
(2017-04-21, 6:14 pm)faneca Wrote:
(2017-04-21, 4:06 pm)tanaquil Wrote: Of all the proper nouns in the that paragraph, I could identify "Iranian" and "Portugese.")

It was a fun example, I felt exactly the same
(...but can't help being pedantic by remarking that "Iranian" and "Portuguese" are adjectives ;-)

Haha, too true! Is there such a thing as a proper adjective?
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#17
Since we're starting to throw in field specific advice, I'll add mine.

Memorizing formulae for physics (and thus engineering) without understanding the concepts first is an absolute waste of time, so I'd highly recommend against it. The formulae come directly from the understanding (usually through experimentation), so they're a pain to remember without knowing what they mean. Let's take an electrostatics example: why does the closed surface integral of electric flux density equal a charge? Because that formula says that if you know the total amount of electric field passing through a closed surface, you know the (net) amount of charge contained within that surface; any flux from outside the surface will create opposing positive and negative flux on the surface, leaving the only net flux to be caused by the charge contained within.
Understanding that is far easier than memorizing Q=Ss(D・dS)   (imagine that the italic capital S is a closed integral sign; the little s is for surface)
Furthermore, you would want to understand that D and E are related directly by permittivity in most materials, so the D vector in that equation can be replaced by εE.
Even furthermore, understanding this allows you to easily grasp that the divergence of D is equal to the volume charge density (because you're essentially making an infinitesimal closed surface and saying how much the field changes across that surface, and thus how much charge is contained in that infinitesimal surface).

That's three equations (and more) all from one concept, and this is hardly a rare occurrence with physics formulae (I just opened the equation sheet we were given for an e.mag test and picked one to make this example), since there are multiple ways to express the same phenomena depending on the conditions, what you want to know, and what you already know that make it easier to calculate one way or the other.



Commonly used constants, their symbols, and names are good bits to memorize though (students starting on electromagnetism must take care to remember which constant is permeability and which is permittivity, for instance, and what those constants represent). It's a pain to look up the speed of light and the permittivity and permeability of free-space every time you need to use them, for instance, so stuff like that is worth SRSing. Just not the formulae.
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#18
Great example - of course as a non-scientist I lost the thread at "closed surface integral," but I think it all comes back to the fundamental principle of "Don't memorize what you have not first understood." It's the same reason why memorizing words from a wordlist is so inefficient unless you are regularly encountering examples of the same set of words in your reading.
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#19
@sholum: I completely agree that just memorizing formulae without the understanding of the concept(s) behind them will do more harm than good.

A good way to learn the concept behind formulae would be a tip I learned from the book "How to Become a Straight-A student". As someone who has to work 4-5x harder just to grasp any math related subjects, I found using the "Mega Problem set" + "Technical Explanation Question" methods really helps me comprehend the material.

I actually posted about this method in another thread where you can read the details on it (along with a personal example).

If one would consider using anki for formulae, using the "Technical Explanation Question" method seems like a good way to not only memorize, but understand the concepts behind them.
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#20
Updated the first post with a link to my spreadsheet in case anyone is curious.
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