How much time should be snatched for writing? I am doing this on the tram on my pda, half an eye out for inspectors. Arguably, this means i’m not writing or thinking at my best. The noise and the people especially those who are attractive are distracting. but the alternative is an unfocussed journey, with thoughts wandering in and out. No patterns constructed, time wasted.

Or not? Reflection can be useful and that in combination with random scenes abruptly becoming salient can form new connections, make new thoughts. Ones worth recording and exploring.

I have been thinking about the value of writing and the effect it has on me. If it is true that our working memory can only hold between five and nine items at any one time, then writing allows one to expand that limit much as a page file does. As i write i also read over what i have written, refreshing my memory with the earlier ideas. this in turn allows me to join those ideas with newer formed ones. a piece of writing then becomes a network that is elucidated in tne process of writing. writing, in short, enables me to think better.

Reading is not as easy. New concepts have to be memorized so that new connections can be formed as further new ideas are introduced. Any idea that is too unfamiliar needs to become intuitive especially if the number of different new concepts exceed the working memory limit. Good writing such as using examples, repeating the same concept in different ways can help but in the end the reader has to do the work, has to ‘chunk’ new ideas so that they can be recalled easily. A good example is working out the implications of formulas when there are many variables.

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