On Memory and Forgetting
As a young man I read a lot of books. As a middle aged man I still do.
As a result, there are a lot of books I half-remember.
Gwern convinced me with his amazing essay ‘The Explore-Exploit Dilemma in Media Consumption’ that if you don’t really think much about information after you process it the half-life of that information is about 3.3 years.
This means its valuable to revisit things more frequently than you might expect. If you read an excellent book or watched a masterful movie twelve-hundred days ago or more you should reread or rewatch. The sixty-six book biblical canon is 1,189 chapters. A chapter a day will, perhaps providentially, keep it fresh for you.
Sometimes however I only half remember titles and authors. In college I read a great single volume history of Russia and for years I could not recall either its name or title.
Today I wrote Microsoft Copilot:
Dear Copilot, I'm trying to remember a book on the history of Russia I read twenty years ago. The book covered the history of Russia at least through the Russian Revolution. The author was Russian and I believe his surname began with either an N or an R. Would you please help me remember?
A History of Russia by Nicholas Riasanovsky
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