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KickStarting Our Memories


Done correctly, a crowdfunding campaign is a major project in its own right. People may be shocked by that, but nobody who has ever had to raise money for a business will be surprised.

We will kick off a KickStarter campaign mid-next month to fund the production, marketing and delivery of a new board game - a table-top game. It is a memory game called MemWars (yes, a pun on "memoirs"). It is, however, not like the Memory Game that you might have played with your kids ... or as a kid.

It is a derivative of Mark Twain's Memory Game from 1885 mashed up with a brilliant memory structure, called the Macunx, developed by Dr. Aaron Ralby of Linguisticator.

Yes, I know. I have 3 degrees in Computer Science and own/run a technology company ... why would I want to do a physical board game? It is not unlike the world-famous Monty Python segue: "Now for something completely different ..."

How, exactly, we got here is a longer story than this blog post will permit ... I have a podcast that describes it available on our website. The real question is (or should be) "Why?"

I am glad you asked.

There is a threshold of what is important enough to remember. In Medieval times that threshold was fairly low owing to lack of tools - the memory was pretty much all we humans had. So we had to make the best of it. Advantage: it is always with us and accessible and we can immediately use the information stored in our memory for thinking. Disadvantage: to memorize something - anything - takes effort.

As time marched on tools - memory aids (e.g. pen & paper) - became more available and accessible and the threshold started to rise steadily until today when seemingly everybody has a smart phone ... so, now a digital copy of things is ubiquitously available ... so, why remember anything? Ubiquitously available as long as we don't lose our phone. Or connectivity. Or power. Advantage: so easy to use even 3-year old can do it. Disadvantage: we are disconnected from our own memories.

The result has been twofold.

First, the bar of what is worth remembering is now raised ridiculously high. People don't even know their own phone numbers anymore ... why? They just say "Hey, Siri! Phone home." and ... boom ... E.T.-like they are in touch with the mother ship. Second, with little/nothing retained in our memories we become a tool of the technology rather than t'other way 'round. With no data, no facts, to think with/about then all we have left to think with/about is what is immediately available - our emotions.

What began as an idea to give my company and team a competitive advantage by having better-trained memories than our competition ... or our customers ... has morphed into a burning desire to see everybody improve their ability to remember.

Including you.

The twin points of the game are:

  1. Learn something useful and exhibit the mastery over the subject matter

  2. Learn how to remember ... learn a structure and method that simplifies remembering useful information

Of the two, the latter is the more important.

Dr. Ralby fully supports our project because by our "gamifying" the Macunx, it makes it easier to learn to use it. And it is a core part of his ongoing research.

With practice, then, learning something "by heart" becomes easier leading to having more facts and data available for thinking leading to better ideas, better art, better and quicker decisions. Those who train their memories will use technology more effectively by using it more precisely. We will have made decisions and moved on while the others are still trying to Google for the basic facts.

Ultimately, I want to ensure that the machines remain servants and that our inability or disinclination to remember does not ultimately enslave us to those who remember for us.