“On the contrary can’t this whole “delete delete delete ambivalence ambivalence ambivalence” mentality be used as a band-aid fix to un-attraction to studying in general (and not lack of interest in the language) to the point that there’s, like, nothing to SRS?
I think the biggest reason people dread Anki (or SRS in general) is not because they’re so terrible at picking out content, but simply because SRS feels like a chore to a lot of people.”
First of all, I want to thank you — Agent J — for posing a contrary idea with so much respect and friendliness. You’re perhaps one of only a handful of people on the entire Internet who can do this right now 😛 . I love pushback and friendly opposition that spares my fragile, delicate, lace-frillled 1 ego. Not even joking. Anyway, to the ideas at hand:
“can’t this whole “delete delete delete ambivalence ambivalence ambivalence” mentality be used as a band-aid fix to un-attraction to studying in general (and not lack of interest in the language) to the point that there’s, like, nothing to SRS?”
This is a very good question. My current hunch — and I may be partially or totally wrong — is that the exact reverse of that statement is true: deletion isn’t band-aiding, it’s fixing a root cause issue, namely that most people have: (1) been schooled and thus (2) forgotten how to do self-directed learning. Rampant deletion: taking decisive control of content, is fast, direct, concrete way to restore some of the self-determination that schooling suppresses and destroys. Make no mistake, the real lesson you learn in school is: follow the follower; do not screw up; do not decide for yourself: do not go off the farm.
Besides, why would there be “nothing to SRS”? That’s like saying that a nice, minimalist household is “lifeless and empty” just because it isn’t a candidate for an episode of Hoarders. There would be nothing crap to SRS, but there’d still be plenty to SRS. As the good doctor Maxwell Maltz once…whatever another word for “said” is…”wrote”…”pointed out”…When you have a fever, the focus needs to be on dropping the old body temp, not on fears of hypothermia. When you have hypothermia, the focus needs to be on raising the body temp, not on fears of causing a fever. There is more content in the world than any of us will ever see in our lifetimes, especially in a prolific language like Japanese. This fear is thoroughly misplaced.
“I think the biggest reason people dread Anki (or SRS in general)…is not because they’re so terrible at picking out content”
Ah, but they are terrible. They so are. In at least two ways:
- They pick things they “should”; things that are hard and boring and look erudite and respectable. They “should all over themselves”, repeatedly making the un-funnest possible choices in terms of content.
- They pick things that are fun now, but hang onto them even after they’re not fun any more. This is future blindness at work: just because something seemed like a fun thing put into your SRS at the front end, doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily gonna stay fun on the back end when you’re doing reps.
- Now that I think about it, perhaps “future blindness” is the wrong way of putting it…maybe it’d be better to call it “consistency bias” or “past bias” or simply “doing something that isn’t fun any more just because it used to be fun”.
Repping bad content is the chore, not the SRS itself. If you had majority fun stuff in your SRS and you did your reps in a fun way (a timeboxed, selective, MCD-like way as opposed to an exhaustive, exhausting, boring way)…only fun could be had. Fun is not in the what of SRS but in the how of SRS: with fun content in a fun way. SRS itself, the tool, is largely neutral.
Would that I could serve you better. Would that I could express myself better for you. But my vocabulary is too weak. I cannot put into words how simple and powerful throwing stuff out is. But I know from personal experience the intense internal resistance people have to doing it because I myself had this resistance. I tried everything but deletion, I had an almost moral revulsion to it, like a middle-aged woman who can’t let go of stupid trinkets and mementos that won’t bring anybody back from the dead, or those literal and figurative grandmas in Japan who try to get you to eat every grain of rice. Screw you and your rice, woman! Half the family has a weight problem and you’re still force-feeding us?! Are you kidding me?!
Now, fortuantely, Anki and Surusu both have reversible deletion options (IIRC Anki calls it “suspend”; Surusu has a “traschcan”), so it’s not like deletion is even destructive: you’re not throwing things away, you’re just getting them out of your way.
Richard Koch and Timothy Ferriss have made me a true believer in the Pareto principle, a principle which suggests that there’s something small out there that you could do right now that will have a massive effect on your outcomes. There is a magic bullet. You may have to through a bunch of un-magic ones to find it, but it exists, magic, silver bullets exist (contrary to something I once said). There’s a mere handful of these small, game-changing things, and even just one of them would and will rock your world. Well, deletion is that thing. It’s one of them, at the very least.
Thanks for reading this and thanks to Agent J for his powerful, pointed questions. I think I got a little excited and combative in my response and I apologize for that. With the benefit of hindsight (it’s been several weeks since I first started writing this), I suspect Agent J may well be righter than I give him credit for. Anyway, I looking forward to hearing from everyone on this 😛
- is this a real word? ↩