The text below has been received at SuperMemo World
in response to our survey upon
publishing SuperMemo is Useless. The
text has been published with the permission of the author on conditions of
I'm on day 656 as a SuperMemo user!
Thanks for soliciting my opinions on the interesting
article SuperMemo is Useless. I find this type
of article motivational for keeping on with my methods.
Here is my story for you to consider on how I've made use
of SuperMemo. Maybe my experience will be helpful for someone who is considering
the large investment of time that using SuperMemo does require. My history:
1981 - 1994 Served as a military officer in the
1994 I'm caught by the downsizing of the military.
1994 - 1995 Using my Japanese language training from
the military as a starting point, I attended a university program of
technical Japanese translation in my attempt to become a translator. I
became a bit desperate to get a leg up on the learning process and found
Ostrander's book Superlearning 2000. I eagerly studied it and
recorded learning tapes set to 60 beat-per-second Baroque music. This
technique seemed to work somewhat but I became overwhelmed with how to
manage large quantities of material and had to give it up.
1995 - Running out of money and finding translation
work to be sparse with my skill level, I took a job at a software firm doing
telephone technical support that occasionally used my Japanese translation
skills (5% of the time). I'm earning a salary about half of my military pay.
The job was a huge struggle due to my lack of computer knowledge.
1996 - Unhappy with the pay and difficult work I
schemed to improve my lot. I continued to search for a better way. I read
"success" books by the likes of Denis Waitley, Brian Tracy, etc. I
also read a number of memory training books such as those by Harry Lorayne.
I discovered Tony Buzan's Mind-Mapping techniques.
1997 - I observed that those getting recognition and
promotions in my field were earning Microsoft certifications. I struggled
through a huge training guide to Windows 95 and passed the certification
exam. I decided to try applying mind-mapping techniques to earn additional
certifications. I set the goal of being certified as a Systems Engineer (6
exams) and doggedly worked building a stack of mind maps of one large
training book after another. Building the maps was the easy part --
reviewing them was sporadic and I found myself cramming the mind-maps before
the exams. I got the certification after having failed only one exam which I
1998 - I received a promotion and decided that I could
get into a field I really found interesting--software development--because I
felt I could teach myself anything I needed to know now. I started
mind-mapping a beginning programming book. A friend told me about SuperMemo.
I stopped using mind-maps. I pursued Microsoft certification as a developer.
Now I didn't have to worry about scheduling reviews of mind maps.
1999 - Using SuperMemo I built a knowledge-base made up
of the training books for three software developer exams. Without any
last-minute cramming I passed all three on the first try. Now certified as a
developer (but admittedly short on practical experience). I continued my
I applied for a programmer's position (temporary agency)
and was hired. I still had little practical experience but continued to use
SuperMemo. For example, I selected 2- or 3- key points per page of the book Bug
Proofing Visual Basic by Rod Stephens. The cover flap says You'll get
the kind of advice and information that usually only comes from years and
years of hard-won experience! This knowledge was extremely valuable to be
able to recall when needed. (This is the best application of SuperMemo I've
found yet--I'll have to find more books like this!) I found that I could
be successful at this job, even with the "short-cuts" I took. I
continued to add to my knowledge-base from books, magazines, and the Internet.
2000 - Am offered a full-time position as a software
developer at the #1 software company.
-- What else can I say? I attribute much of my success to
SuperMemo. The amount charged for the program is laughable given the benefit's
I've gained. It's lucky for me that you don't charge a percentage of my pay