Open thread, 25-31 August 2014

A few months ago I started using the Ultimate Geography Anki deck after performing quite abysmally on some silly geography quiz that was doing the rounds on Facebook. I now know where all the damn countries are, like an informed citizen of the world. This has proven itself very useful in a variety of ways, not least of which is in reading other material with a geographical backdrop. For example, the chapter in Guns, Germs and Steel on Africa is much more readable if you know where all the African countries are in relation to one another.

(In the process of ... (read more)

KnaveOfAllTrades's idea of learning demographic & economic (GDP and its component parts) statistics of various places has occurred to me as a candidate for a useful Anki deck, so I second that.

Knowing some mathematical constants to a few significant figures can be useful. Memorizing √10 = 3.16 lets you interpret midpoints between ticks on a logarithmic scale, and √2 & √3 are the lengths of diagonals of unit squares & cubes. And knowing all three roots makes it easier to guesstimate square roots in general, using the √(ab) = (√a)(√b) result for ... (read more)

6KnaveOfAllTrades5yYep, I find the world a much less confusing place since I learned capitals and location on map. I had (and to some extent still do have) a mental block on geography which was ameliorated by it. Rundown of positive and negative results: In a similar but lesser way, I found learning English counties (and to an even lesser extent, Scottish counties) made UK geography a bit less intimidating. I used this deck [] because it's the only one on the Anki website I found that worked on my old-ass phone; it has a few howlers and throws some cities in there to fuck with you, but I learned to love it. I suspect that learning the dates of monarchs and Prime Ministers (e.g. of England/UK) would have a similar benefit in contextualising and de-intimidating historical facts, but I never finished those decks and haven't touched them in a while, so never reached the critical mass of knowledge that allowed me to have a good handle on periods of British history. I found it pretty difficult to (for example) keep track of six different Georges and map each to dates, so slow progress put me off. Let me know if you're interested and want to set up a pact, e.g. 'We'll both do at least ten cards from each deck a day and report back to the other regularly' or something. In fact that offer probably stands for any readers. I installed some decks for learning definitions in areas of math that I didn't know, but found memorising decontextualised definitions hard enough that I wasn't motivated to do it, given everything else I was doing and Anki-ing at the time. I still think repeat exposure to definitions might be a useful developmental strategy for math that nobody seems to be using deliberately and systematically, but I'm not sure Anki is a right way to do it. Or if it is, that shooting so far ahead of my current knowledge was the best way to do it. Similarly a LaTeX deck I got having pretty much never used LaTeX and not practising it while learning
6Metus5yGreat effort. If may suggest a topic without providing a deck, I'd say learn about the vocabulary of personal finance. Or more generally, learn the vocabulary of stuff relevant to most lifes from time to time, like medicine, law and, well, finance. This helps to search for the correct things when needed and helps communicating with the relevant professionals.

Open thread, 25-31 August 2014

by jaime2000 1 min read25th Aug 2014229 comments


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