How to delay learning of the topic?

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From: WojtekTM
Country: Poland
Sent: Jan 10th, 2018
Subject: How to delay learning of the topic

Question:

Yesterday I imported e-book into Supermemo as one huge HTML page. Than I split it into chapters using H1 headers, and SM assigned priorities to separated chapters in arbitrary manner (in my opinion). Then I have modified priorities - increaded for first chapters and decreased for last chapters. I was convinced that it should be enough to incrementally read chapters in the order of priorities. However today I can see in the outstanding list e.g. chapter 13 with priority 99. So lowering priority did not prevent scheduling it for today. Contrary the 3 chapter with priority set to 10 has not been scheduled for today.

Is it possible at all in SM to learn a given topic now or leave it for the future?

I suspect my doubts are caused by lack of understanding philosophy and implementation of priority queue.

Answer:

  • Split article derives the priority from the split article. Individual chapters get their priorities randomly dispersed around the suggested values. You guess, SuperMemo does not do semantic analysis of texts, like Google, to figure out which are most important. You can spread priorities in range, or provide some manually and then do the spread
  • you can sort by order in contents, then spread priorities and then use Spread to spread articles at one per day
  • If you do not have enough time to read and the article jump ahead of the sequence, you can use manual delay (e.g. ctr+j)
  • If you want to focus on one chapter and send the others to the future, you can simply set first at high priority, and the rest as priority=99%
  • a simple trick (not recommended), is to dismiss the remaining chapters and reave a note at the bottom, "read next" (this will disable the use of chapters in search&review, etc.)

This situation is a bit atypical. You generally do not split an article unless it is made of independent parts (like at Wikipedia). You probably do that for performance reasons, hence the need for all the trickery. For articles that load fast enough, reading from the top is just the usual practice.

Another approach is speed reading, in which you manually extract bigger parts and set remote interval and priority for less important portions (or those that need to or can be read much later).