Thursday, June 19, 2008

Call the police!

This note has been added as an afterthought, realising that a large proportion of my blog readers are American, German or Other. 999 is the phone number for the emergency services. Just substitute it in your mind for 911 or 112 or whatever outlandish number you prefer to use whenever you encounter "999" in the following blog. Thank you for reading.

This is, apparently, blog post number 999 in Zoomy's Thing. Wowee!

Actually, the only thing this inspires me to write about is a question I occasionally get asked about the "Ben System". Doesn't it make more sense, people say, to have, for example, 999 be a policeman, because that's the first thing that comes to mind when you see the number 999, and not Mr Burns's teddy Bobo, or whatever image you might create with the Ben System.

Actually, people who say that are invariably people who currently use the Dominic System, which recommends this kind of thing. People who started off by reading Tony Buzan's books, like me, have never encountered the idea. So that's probably why I always reply "No, that's not the way you should do it. Make a Ben-system or Major-system or Dominic-system image for each number/card/whatever, don't break the rules. Easier to learn them then, believe me."

However, this response of mine is, I think, a worthy one. When you're learning a lot of images, especially if you're trying your hand at a 1000-image system, it takes time to drill them into your head. And the way to think about the "Ben System" is not as a way of converting numbers into words and pictures, but as a way of learning to read a different alphabet. You want to get to a point where you're looking at the piece of paper and not seeing numbers at all, but automatically seeing the appropriate image. And you will get to that point more quickly if during the learning phase you're thinking "that's buh-oh-buh... Bobo!" instead of "that's 999... policeman!" Really, you will. So pick a system and use it for EVERYTHING. No exceptions. Your brain will thank you for it.

Probably. I mean, Dominic hasn't exactly been a failure at the whole memory thing...


Anonymous said...

1) What Buzan book did you read?

2) Would you recommend it?

3) What if any success did you achieve using Buzan’s number/word list?

4) Would you recommend someone starting with Buzan’s System list, or immediately create their own list using the Ben System key?

Thank you.

Zoomy said...

1) "Use Your Memory"

2) Absolutely. It lays out all the systems and techniques you might need, explaining them clearly and effectively with a minimum of unnecessary clutter. I think it's the perfect book for anyone who wants to start out as a memory-competitor, and I think I was very lucky that that was the one I happened to pick up when I was looking for something to tell me how to memorise a pack of cards.

3) I didn't use the word list in the book, but created my own 52 card images and 100 number images using the Major system and taking Tony's list as a guide. I used this system until early 2003, when I moved on to the Ben System (which is really just an expansion of the Major system, rather than a real system in its own right). So my biggest achievements with Buzan's system was a bronze medal in the MSO championship 2001, 11th place in the world championship 2002 and a peak world ranking of 16 (in the days when it was much, much easier to be sixteenth in the world!).

4) Nowadays, I recommend that people start out with the Simplified Ben System if they intend to eventually move on to the ludicrous complexity of the Real Ben System. Trouble is, the Simplified Ben System isn't very well-known, since the book that explains it has yet to be published and the only way to know about it is to have me tell it to you or point you to this website.

But I don't think starting out with Tony's system is a bad thing - it worked for me, after all. However you start, the important thing is to make the system your own, and adapt it to the unique layout of your own brain. Do what feels right for you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again. Your response was most helpful.