Chunking and linking markers

Our students learn to manipulate with visual markers they  create, often relying on trial and error. There are at least two operations on visual markers that create basic knowledge representation: chunking and linking. Chunking deals with structuring information into manageable chunks. Linking deals with defining relationships between chunks and within chunks. Below is a discussion from our Udemy course regarding these visualization manipulations.
chunking mental markers

I’ve developed a clear understanding of how mental markers work, and am working toward making my markers more vivid and a bit more relatable to each other. Lately, I’ve been creating funny stories in order to chunk the mental markers (ex: “Crosby’s seafood on highway 17=david crosby holding 17 sign while eating seafood”), but wonder if there are better ways to link those mental markers together. Could you provide other examples of mental marker chunking in action?

  • Try to check various approaches and see what works for you. Usually there is a trade-off between speed of creating markers, accuracy in details and retention span [e.g. how well you remember the markers after a year]. Therefore advanced super-learners use more than one system of markers… Also try to engage as many senses and association chains as you can if you need high-quality retention span, and for better accuracy try to create unique images.

  • Just to add, I think you are definitely on the right track with your Crosby example, also because you’ve chunked 3-4 details. Experimentation is key here, but I think you’ll already observe really dramatic results just with the techniques you’ve already demonstrated. Great works!

Order of markers

When recalling markers, should I be trying to recall them in the order I memorized them? This would seem logical especially when reading literature such as novels which make sense in a particular order. If so, are there any techniques to achieve this?

  • Well, this is a very good question. When we compare the training required for handling complex data structures in one’s brain vs the benefit, the mind-mapping methodology became compelling. So the short answer is: use mind-mapping tools. Below is a long answer.

    The most advanced structure I use is directional graph, something like internet, where everything is linked to everything via some sort of hyperlinks, see e.g. This is equivalent to reading 2000wpm in structural complexity.

    The simplest approach is a linked list, like a story, the order in which the subjects are mentioned. This is equivalent to reading 400wpm in structural complexity.

    For the person that graduates from this course, I originally suggested a tree-like structure, where you have markers for each granularity (the whole article, per section in sequence of sections, per paragraph in section and per important fact within paragraph). The linking of the markers should be bi-directional on each level, so you can “walk through” the markers in the original and in the inverse order. This is equivalent to reading 1000wpm in structural complexity.For a simple text this method becomes very similar to mind-mapping. And thus the short answer in the first paragraph.

  • Just to add a personal testimony, as I said in the lectures I struggle a little bit with mind-maps, and so I tend to replay markers back in logical strings. These are roughly in order they were created, but sometimes, if the logic is more clear to me in another order, I’ll change it up.

    For example, in a scientific paper where they state assumptions, then methodology, then findings, I may play back assumptions and then replay the markers of findings, because to me, this is more logical. Then I’ll play back the methodologies.

  • but doesn’t mind-mapping by its geometrical definition involve adopting a top-down approach rather than the bottom-top (details -> concepts) approach that’s been emphasized? Its starting point is a broad topic that then ‘branches’ out into details, right?

  • Basically you need to be able to go both bottom-up and top-down. Here is an “ideal” approach expected at the end of the course:

    First you go top down, when you prepare the structure of the document in your head. Then you add up details in bottom-up fashion, correcting missing “branches” as you go. Finally after reading the document you consolidate your knowledge by going top-down and verifying the details you remembered.

    In real life I work with connected graphs and Jonathan works with some personalized variation of linked lists, so the mindmapping approach is not really a strong recommendation.


    • that sounds great, in that case maybe the problem is that your markers are not well connected, have you thought about that?

    • If you’re having difficulty remembering markers, there are a couple things that could be happening.

      1 is, like Pablo said, that they don’t link up nicely.

      Another is, you may just have to train your working memory to remember larger chunks of numbers. Try remembering 3 sequences of 3 numbers. Once you can get that, work on 3×4, etc etc.

      In the meantime, you should try to review your markers more frequently. Perhaps a *very* quick review after each paragraph – just picturing the markers before going on to the next paragraph – will help you remember them when you get to the bottom of each page.

      Keep us updated and let us know how it goes. I’ll let Dr. Lev chime in as well with anything I missed.

    • How are you linking the images? The way I do it is one image doing something to another image. For example, if my images are phone and chair I imagine the phone smashing the chair to pieces.

    • There are many ways of linking. The way you described above is very simple on-way link.

      Now consider 2-way link:

      You look at the phone and see an image of chair. Where have you seen the chair? On your phone.

      Consider nesting [Top level: phone, bottom level chair on the cover of 5S iphone]:

      You see a movie on your phone’s backside. In this movie a fat clown with 5 baloons shaped like S breaks a chair with his huge but.

      The same in the long chain [5s har 64G]:

      With the phone you smash a chair which transforms into 5 snakes which hide in a chess box [64 squares] of a grandmaster [G]

      For hyperlinking you need like 20 pieces of information….

      What I am trying to say: If you use more pieces of information you will be able to construct better data structures [fast creation, more stable, colorful, several ways of navigation within].


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2 Replies to “Chunking and linking markers”

    1. A marker is basically a visual association. When a child reads a book there are paragraphs and images on each page. The images are visual markers. As we get mature, we are expected to generate the images in our head. Sometimes we lose this ability and need to relearn.

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