President and Head of R&D at SuperMemo World (1991-1997)
founder of SuperMemo Research, an independent R&D unit
at SuperMemo World (1997-present)
author of the first implementations of SuperMemo (incl. SuperMemo 1.0 for DOS, 1987,
and SuperMemo 7.0 for Windows, 1992)
currently working primarily on the concept of incremental
reading and incremental learning in general. Incremental learning is an extension of spaced repetition into knowledge
processing and management
Since 1998 writing primarily for supermemo.com
(mostly not peer-reviewed)
I apologize for my shortcomings that make it hard to communicate and work
together on important projects. In particular, I apologize:
My e-mail replies can be intermittent, delayed, chaotic or none!
To process mail, I use incremental mail processing that is similar to
incremental reading in SuperMemo. This makes it possible to prioritize
individual pieces, focus on most important messages, work on messages
creatively, and delay most of the remaining mail (often indefinitely). The
process is partly stochastic, and I may stop working on threads even if my
usual enthusiasm seems to indicate their priority is high enough. I may
respond in minutes or in months even on important subjects within the
same thread. I almost never decide not to reply, and the delay is occurring
without a conscious decision. My poor reaction time comes from the
insufficient ratio of time allocated to mail volume. I realize this makes all co-operation extremely difficult.
If you write on a subject that is extremely important and still get no
reply, you may re-send. Some pieces of mail get lost in transit.
I do not take on new projects. My schedule seems closed
for years to come. My capacity to add more work hours per day has been
exhausted a decade ago. If you have new ideas about projects related to
SuperMemo, you would better write to Krzysztof Biedalak (The Boss). Almost
daily I get lovely mail with great visions about what SuperMemo might
become. However, my work over incremental reading or over the links between
sleep and learning fills my days to the brim. I love to read all inspiring
mail, esp. if it touches my favorite areas of research. Unfortunately, it
would take an extraordinarily interesting idea to shunt my train to new
tracks. Please keep writing nevertheless.
I disappear for months at a time. When I work on an
important project, I often cut off all my links with the outside world. This
works wonders for focused work on a single subject. Naturally, this can be
exasperating for everyone else, esp. that I send no notifications and all my
mail is redirected to a colleague. The privacy level in my communications is
I do not attend conferences or business meetings. In
short, I do not travel. In this modern electronic world, I considering
travelling an unnecessary risk, as well as a waste of energy and time. All
my work can now be done over the Internet. I have never been aboard a plane.
My last conference and the last business meeting took place 14 years ago
(1999). My last train trip took place a decade ago (2004). It is now two
years that I have not even stepped into a car. I have no driving license.
I do not have a cell phone. I design my schedule around
my circadian cycle using the Plan feature of SuperMemo.
Phone calls at unpredictable moments of time make the execution of the
schedule difficult, and for some slots, impossible. For the same reason, I
do not use Internet telephony. I am not a Luddite. I will use a phone for
learning at some point in the future. However, I am still waiting for the
right kind of SuperMemo that will make that worthwhile.
Considering the above, you may ask if I even like or care about other people.
With all my work I hope to contribute to a better world. I love people! Love is
often a problem. I need rational methods to temper and organize my enthusiasm
for people, projects and ideas. I believe my attitude will
be increasingly prevalent in creative professions. It is not dictated by lack of
concern for others. It is dictated by efficiency! I apologize to anyone who
I would like to recapture the idealized image of pre-industrial scientist who
could focus entirely on his research pursuits. Like Newton in plague years, or
Darwin on Beagle, or Darwin in his later years when he was writing the Origin of
Species. Modern scientists justifiably complain of the need to juggle family life,
administration, travel and commute, publish-or-perish pressures, battling for
grants, student supervision, lecturing, information overload and Inboxes
bursting at the seams. Contrast this with Darwin's work in his study, walks in
nature, time for family, and pacing himself slowly to write the text that changed the world.
This ideal is supposed to be served by the drastic measures I take: creative
vacation, ditching the cell phone and travel, using mostly e-mail for
communication, working on one project at a time, blogging as opposed
to rigorous publishing, using bare feet rather than a car, etc. Not only does
simplicity serve the efficiency, it is also a good formula for a happy life.
I regret that my e-mail communication is erratic. There are countless
interesting people in the world. I would love to know them all and learn about
their lives, habits, their learning and their sleep, their creative habits and
methods, the way they raise their kids, etc. and yet I need to squeeze this all
in a reasonable time slot. Hence incremental e-mail processing that isn't great
for continuity and yet it is best for extracting long-term value from
communication. Quality should take precedence over Quantity. Please stay in
touch independent of my shortcomings.