Advanced Sequential Access – Putting Sonic Boom into Presentations

Preventing stage-fright in the boardroom

Suppose you had to memorize a speech, or a presentation. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the classroom, or the boardroom. Your success and your confidence in front of a group of people listening to you talking will depend entirely on your ability to recall the material you are presenting. This is where our cybernetic memory skills come into play.

Assume you had to give a presentation on the benefits of the new plasma rifle that your R&D department has managed to put together, and you want to put forward the proposal to manufacture this product and sell it to the public. Your basic argument is that plasma rifles are better than laser rifles. Since a presentation is not a direct reading out loud of an essay, you don’t have to memorize every word verbatim. So the first thing we do is to list out the key points we want to present:

  • plasma is an ionized gas – i.e., a gas with an electrical charge.
  • our plasma rifle fires a bolt of plasma at the enemy
  • laser attacks can be reflected by shiny armor.
  • laser rifles need to be constantly aimed at the enemy because the laser needs time to heat up the target area.
  • plasma rifles look cool on cyborgs.

Now, I’m sure you remember what “plasma” is, from the preceding section. Let’s use that image as a starter:

Imagine your plastic mother eating batteries and burping. Now, we need to remember the word “bolt” (fires a bolt at the enemy). Think of a thunderbolt, with a brilliant flash, and an explosion. Envision a thunderbolt slamming down from the heavens, exploding on your mother (sorry Mum!) and frying her hair. Now, see a knight in shining armour, riding on the thunderbolt. Hear the loud thunder. See the shiny suit of armour. Imagine how the shiny brass will make you squint your eyes because it’s so shiny. Now, while you’re squinting at the brass, suddenly an arrow flies towards you, shot by the knight, and stabs you in the eye! Ouch! The arrow represents aiming. Think of the pain, think of the horror! Now imagine you trying to pull the arrow out, and when you finally do (aren’t you glad this is just imagination?!) you realise that the “arrow” was really the minute hand of a gigantic clock! The clock represents time. Next, imagine you pushing the clock away because you’re so angry it stabbed you in the eye. Push the clock over a cliff, and watch it fall down, down, down into the depths. Imagine the clock screaming, cursing at you. Imagine it falling into the fiery heat of hell. Now imagine yourself sweating because of the heat. Picture yourself walking away from the edge of that cliff because it’s so hot. And finally, picture a million ice-cubes falling down on the sky and hitting your head. The ice-cubes represent “coolness.”

Ok, so that’s our memory story. It’s a sequential access memory aid because each image evokes the next one, and it is a continuous “mental movie.” Unlike the peg-system of memory, you cannot randomly pick a concept out. You must follow the entire sequence from beginning to end. And this is good. We need the sequential aspect, because we are memorizing a presentation, and presentations have a specific order from beginning to end.

Now, imagine yourself in the boardroom of the high-tech firm, CyberDyne Systems, Inc. Imagine yourself giving the presentation. What’s first? Think about your story. Oh yes, plasma. So you explain what plasma is: “Plasma, as you all may well know, is an ionized gas, or one that has an electrical charge. Our new plasma rifle uses that charged gas for defensive capabilities.” Then you remember the thunderbolt. So you tell them that the new plasma rifle shoots a bolt of plasma at the target. “Why is this better than laser technology,” someone asks you? You remember the shiny armour on the knight, and reply, “Oh, well, you see. Lasers can be reflected off shiny armor.” You go on and remember that the shiny light caused you to squint and you got an arrow in your eye, which turned out to be the minute hand of a clock. So you say to the crowd, “And not only that, but a laser beam has to be aimed at the target for a certain amount of time. A plasma bolt does not.” Then, you remember pushing the clock into the depths of hell and feel the heat rising up from the abyss, and say, “the reason for the aiming is that the laser needs time to heat up the target area.” Since you’re already on a roll, you start to improvise with the material you already have: “In contrast, the plasma bolt can be fired, and upon release from the rifle, the user is free to move about without having to continue aiming the weapon at the opponent.” Improvisation finished, you get back into the memory story, and remember that after pushing the clock down, you stepped away from the edge of the cliff because it was too hot, and suddenly ice-cubes rained fromthe sky: “And finally, the aesthetic value of our new product will appeal to cyborgs everywhere who want to look … well, cool with the new armament.” Applause and confetti. Take a bow. You’ve done a good job.

High-Resolution Graphical InterFACE – The Key to Personal Rapport

Remembering strangers and other weirdoes

One of the most important things a business-person must know how to do is remembering people’s names. In fact, this goes beyond business. A politician has to know the names of voters, and other important people. A teacher must know the names of certain students to give class participation marks, and to make the teaching environment more personal, more “user friendly.” But sometimes, it’s just too overwhelming a task. A cocktail reception, for example, probably consists of hundreds of people. How on earth is a person supposed to remember all of them?

The first key is to be selective. Are you sure you need to remember that person’s name? This goes for other information too. Unless you need to know it, spending time memorizing certain bits of information is a serious drain on your time and energy.

The second key is to utilize memory skills to assist you in this task. Here is the basic formula for remembering people’s names:

  • Pick out a specific reason why that person is important to you.
  • Find something unique about that person’s character.
  • Find something unique about that person’s physical appearance.
  • Make up a strange memory image with the person’s name.

Let’s take an example. Suppose you had to remember a fat, bald rocket scientist by the name of Jeffrey Wundershoes. I am actually cheating here, because immediately the name “Wundershoes” would evoke a strange mental image: A pair of magic shoes. You could imaging a pair of magical winged slippers, or diamond-studded loafers much like the pair Aladdin would wear while riding his magic carpet.

Next, we check out the person’s character background. He’s a rocket scientist. Picture a large rocket, with the NASA logo on the side, ready to take off. Now, think about the physical attributes of the person. He’s fat, and bald. Think of his head as the moon. It’s shiny, almost smooth. Imagine craters on his head. That’s a hilarious image in itself – my apologies to readers with receding hairlines.

OK, now, put all the images together. Imagine a large rocket, wearing magical shoes, smashing into the side of the moon. We forgot something. Why is this person important to us? If we can’t remember why he’s so important, we won’t understand why we had to know his name in the first place.

So we think about it, and realise that this person is, in fact, the father of our spouse. Wow. That makes for VIP status, does it not? So we imagine the rocket, with magical shoes, smashing against the side of the moon, and causing a massive explosion of rice everywhere. That’s right. Rice. It signifies a wedding. And that should remind us about family, about relatives. So we remember that this scientist (rocket) has the name Wundershoes (magical slippers), is bald (the moon) and is our relative (rice), in fact our father-in-law.

With other more common names, it gets a bit harder. The worst cases are names such as Smith or Jones. But we can tie those names to other things. For example, if we have a friend who wears black clothing all the time, or has black hair, and his name is Smith, then we could group those two ideas together to make “blacksmith.” Then we would use something related to what a blacksmith does, such as make horseshoes, or other iron objects. Tie those concepts together with the physical attributes, the personality traits, and the person’s importance to us, and we’ve got it made.

It is advantageous to write down a list of names for yourself, and create images with those names – images that make sense to you. Then, when the next cocktail party or social function rolls around, you will already have a prepared mental list of name-concepts that you can use immediately when you’re introduced to someone. A tip from me is to use first impressions. The very first things that strike you about a person are usually the key attributes that will remind you about he or she is.

Mental Fax Machines – Streamlining Your Studying

How to ace tomorrow’s essay-type exam

To conclude this chapter, I will present to you a tested-and-tried method of studying for exams with essay-type questions. I created this method for my own use, and now I share it with you. Be informed, however, that I assume you have had sufficient practice with the memory skills covered in this section to be competent enough to use them by yourself. If you have not been successful in the exercises we’ve been through, you must look at the way in which you have been constructing your mental images. Make sure they work. I don’t want you to have a false sense of security if you’re going to use this technology in a real exam. That said, I don’t want to discourage you either. The memory skills aren’t difficult. They just need some practicing, and time to get used to.

Here is the complete manner in which you memorize material from a textbook. Assume you had to memorize the following excerpt for a test tomorrow. Again, it is taken from Megatrends 2000:

When the great dystopian George Orwell wrote 1984, Stalin was still alive and Hitler had recently died. No wonder Orwell believed the dictator of the future would use technological advances to hold people in subjugation. This was also the premise of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Dictators do need to control information to maintain control, since knowledge is power.

But it did not work out the way Orwell and Huxley feared. Global television and video cassettes instead have curbed the power of dictators.

There are fewer dictators on the planet today because they can no longer control information; … The old men in China did decide to shoot down the student demonstrators in the full glare of television, but ten years earlier the students would never have reached Tiananmen Square in the first place. With individuals’ power extended by the computer, citizens can keep tabs on governments a lot more efficiently than governments can keep tabs on people.

Now, we must use a highlighter pen to focus on the key points. I know that there is a great controversy surrounding the use of highlighters, but like any other instrument, there is a way to use it and a way to abuse it. I’ll show you how to use it here.

Take the highlighter, and mark out the key points. Again, like we had to do for our presentation, the only things we need to know are the key points. We don’t have to memorize verbatim. Teachers give marks for points used in essay questions, not photographic memory ability.

Here is the exert again, with boldface where I would use my own highlighter:

When the great dystopian George Orwell wrote 1984, Stalin was still alive and Hitler had recently died. No wonder Orwell believed the dictator of the future would use technological advances to hold people in subjugation. This was also the premise of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Dictators do need to control information to maintain control, since knowledge is power.

But it did not work out the way Orwell and Huxley feared. Global television and video cassettes instead have curbed the power of dictators.

There are fewer dictators on the planet today because they can no longer control information; … The old men in China did decide to shoot down the student demonstrators in the full glare of television, but ten years earlier the students would never have reached Tiananmen Square in the first place. With individuals’ power extended by the computer, citizens can keep tabs on governments a lot more efficiently than governments can keep tabs on people.

Incidentally, the best highlighter that I have come across is the yellow one made by Major Accentâ„¢. I always keep several handy. I have found that its shade of yellow is just right. Other highlighters are either too bright, or too dull.

But again, this is my personal preference. If you like another shade of yellow, by all means use that highlighter, but the important thing to remember is to use the same type of highlighter for all your memory sessions. It appears to me that the brain gets trained to recognize certain text if it is lit up with the highlighter you normally use, and the brain tends to pick up that material easier the more it is trained to recognize text in that specific shade of colour. Notice also that I did not highlight complete sentences. It is my own theory that by highlighting only the important parts of a sentence, you force your mind to recognize the information on its own terms. You deprive it the luxury of treating the information as complete and done with, when framed inside a complete sentence. Sometimes, students find that they go on “autopilot,” without realising what they had been reading. By highlighting only fragments of a sentence, the mind is forced to actively reconstruct the meaning of the words, instead of simply “reciting” whatever the author wrote. In addition, the use of less highlighter ensure that you do not light up the page like a Christmas tree. Some textbooks look like they were painted with a highlighter, defeating the entire purpose of highlighting in the first place!

In any case, we have marked out the key concepts in the passage. Let’s look at the concepts themselves:

George Orwell was a dystopian who wrote 1984.
Stalin and Hitler were dictators.
Technological advances can hold people in subjugation.
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
Dictators need to control information.
Knowledge is power.
Global television and video cassettes curb power of dictators.
Dictators no longer control information.
Old men in China shot students in Tiananmen Square.
Computers help the public keep tabs on the government, not vice-versa.
By listing the concepts out, you are making notes. You are distilling the real information from the textbook. The next step is to memorize the information. We will use sequential accessing here because during the exam, we want to write down points which are congruent with one another, and follow the logical sequence of thought as was presented in the textbook.

The memory story might be as follows:

A talking pig (Orwell’s 1984) eats a disk (dystopian), munching loudly. Bits of plastic fall from its mouth. The disk is stained (Stalin) with paint in the shape of a Nazi sign (Hitler). The disk explodes and out comes a submarine (subjugation). Huckleberry Finn (Huxley) is riding on top of the submarine and carrying the world on his shoulders (Brave New World). A VCR remote control (information control) flies down from the sky and attacks the submarine, shooting infrared beams at it. Suddenly, thousands of volumes of encyclopaedias fall from the sky (knowledge) and fall into the water around the submarine. You plug a television (global television) into one of the volumes of encyclopaedia (power) and turn it on. There is an action movie playing (video cassette) on the television. It shows a man smashing his car against the side of the curb (curb power of dictators). An old Chinese man is almost run over by the car (old men in China) . The old man raises his gun and tries to shoot the driver (students shot). Suddenly, a whole legion of tin men or tin soldiers (Tiananmen Square) rush around the corner of a building. They are running by and drinking soda pop (tabs) at the same time. As they come closer, you see that their heads are large computer screens (computers) with the words “Miami Vice” (not vice-versa) on them.

What a really weird story! But if it wasn’t weird, you probably wouldn’t remember it. If you feel you’re ready, answer this question which might probably be on the exam:

Question 1: Discuss issues relevant to the ways technology can determine the distribution of power in society. Be sure to give examples to support your arguments.

Would you have panicked at the sight of this question, if you didn’t prepare for it? I sure would have! But now that you are armed with the memory story, you can breeze through it. A sample answer might be as follows:

George Orwell, the dystopian, wrote the book 1984 which discussed how technology could influence the control of power in a society. He was influenced mainly by dictators such as Stalin and Hitler. His primary argument was that technological inventions could hold people in subjugation. A similar author is Aldous Huxley who wrote Brave New World. Since knowledge is power, dictators want to control information. However, in modern times, inventions such as the television and the video cassette curb the power of these dictators and they can no longer control the information. An example of this would be Tiananmen Square, in which the Chinese government gave orders to have student demonstrators shot. However, the whole world could see what they had done. Another example would be the invention of the computer. It is another device which helps the people keep tabs on the government, and not vice-versa.

What do you think you would have gotten for this answer? Surely an A+!!! Can you appreciate the power you now have in your hands? Use it well. You have successfully gained the critical tactical advantage of cybernetic technology, and are a fully-fledged cyborg! Congratulations!

In the next chapter, we will look at the fundamental ways in which you function. In other words, we’re going to install the latest version of …