The Anki Canon

June 2021

I’m generally not in the position to give Life Advice™, but I think Anki is an exception. It’s been an unequivocal net positive for me and I really think more people should use it.

source: https://old.reddit.com/r/Anki/comments/i8mt06/when_you_find_anki_and_rsealise_how_inefficient/

source: https://old.reddit.com/r/Anki/comments/i8mt06/when_you_find_anki_and_rsealise_how_inefficient/

Over the years, a few essays and blog posts have improved public understanding of SRS (Spaced Repetition Software) and generally ‘leveled up’ the community. In my opinion, some of these essays are so critical that you need to read them to have a current understanding of Anki. Unfortunately, they risk getting buried by newer posts because of the recency bias of search engines.

If the first resource for understanding Anki should be the manual, the second stop should be the practical, encyclopedic essay by Gwern:

Spaced Repetition for Efficient Learning, by Gwern Branwen

My key takeaways:

Augmenting Long-term Memory, by Micheal Nielsen

This essay is famous because of Micheal Nielsen’s effort to articulate his theories about memory and his useful observations.

My key takeaways:

“In particular, someone with a lower IQ but able to call on more complex chunks would be able to reason about more complex situations than someone with a higher IQ but less complex internalized chunks.

In other words, having more chunks memorized in some domain is somewhat like an effective boost to a person’s IQ in that domain.”

Other Essays

I think Effective learning: Twenty rules of formulating knowledge, by Dr Piotr Woźniak, is a must-read. The key points are already summarized and numbered in bold. Piotr Woźniak helped jump start the SRS revolution as early as the 1980s (he’s the guy with the Wired article about him).

As a recap, I recommend reading the following documents.

  1. Read the Anki manual
  2. Read Spaced Repetition for Efficient Learning, by Gwern Branwen
  3. With less urgency, read Augmenting Long-term Memory, by Micheal Nielsen
  4. Read Effective learning: Twenty rules of formulating knowledge, by Dr Piotr Woźniak
  5. (optional) read other documents from Gwern’s list of links, Piotr Woźniak articles (scroll down), or the Anki subreddit