Author: SuperMemo Library
Date: Nov 13, 2002
What is incremental reading?
Incremental reading is the most
important enhancement to SuperMemo since its inception in 1987. Yet few
people know what incremental reading is, and yet fewer are able to successfully employ it
in their daily learning practice. Incremental reading can shortly be
described as reading&repetition. You just take an article and keep on
reading it ( in the same way as you read it in your web browser). However, while
reading, you tell SuperMemo, which portions of text are important. All you need
for that is: select&click. SuperMemo will present those portions to
you at later time for further analysis. That's the essence of incremental
When you read important fragments, SuperMemo helps you convert them to question-and-answer material with a single click. For example, you read that Neolithic diet increased the rate of infectious diseases. With a single click you convert that to a question: Neolithic diet [...] the rate of infectious diseases. It is the job of SuperMemo to handle the flow of articles, their fragments and questions. Every day, you get your dose of reading and repetition. SuperMemo tries to maximize the retention of your new knowledge. That's all.
Normally, after a complete processing of an article, Done (Ctrl+Shift+Enter) would be executed. Done deletes the processed material to reduce the size of the collection. Done pages are empty. Done makes it possible to execute more specific searches with Ctrl+F. However, for educational purposes, original articles have not been Done so that you could have a look at the incremental reading workflow. Press the Contents button to see the resulting knowledge tree.
Except for some cosmetic edits, this collection has been created entirely by pastes and extracts. Incremental reading is a blessing for slow typing people! With sufficient skills, collection of this size can be prepared in 1-3 hours. Better yet, learning takes even less time! However, if you learn this ready-made material, you will naturally not benefit from what you would have learn by processing it incrementally. In other words, you will learn it at a slower rate than the person who does the actual incremental reading.
- Process the pasted body of text by selecting its fragments and using Extract (Alt+X). As a result the text is marked with this bluish color (meaning: processed). In this collection, these extracts have not been deleted so that you could trace the origin of individual questions and answer
- While processing the pasted page, follow external links and import more pages (e.g. the first link leads to http://www.w3schools.com/js/js_intro.asp which you can import again with Ctrl+Alt+N)
- Repeat this process until you import the entire course to SuperMemo
- Alternatively, you can use Open In New Window in Internet Explorer and open all lessons from the course. You can then import them all at once with Import web pages (Shift+F8). The later pages in the course was imported using this en masse method. Only when their turn comes up in incremental reading, are these pages pasted fully to SuperMemo by following the external link
- You can move between pages with PgDn or using Contents or Search (Ctrl+F)
- While reading individual pages during the incremental reading process (starting with Learn or Ctrl+L), you can execute more Extracts (selected text and press Alt+X) and Cloze deletions (select a keyword and press Alt+Z). Keywords that become questions get marked with this brownish color. Use Alt+Left to move back and see the result of Extract and Cloze. You can also import more pages by following hyperlinks.
- After a number of days, extracts become shorter and more specific (and more numerous). Less relevant portions of material are dismissed or deleted or Done. Most important extracts are processed with cloze deletions and converted to simple questions-and-answers
- This is work in progress! Initial pages of this course have been completely processed and converted into items. The lower you go in the Contents, the lesser the degree of processing. The bottommost branches have not been processed. You can process them as part of your incremental reading practice