Minimum definition of incremental reading

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This text is a part of a series of articles about SuperMemo, a pioneer of spaced repetition software since 1987

Why need a definition?

The term "incremental reading" is nearly two decades old, and it slowly percolates into the awareness of users of spaced repetition. To ensure that no half-baked product can claim the title, please demand that the authors of software that claims to "implement incremental reading" comply with the "minimum definition" outline below


First Steps options

Vital Options

  • mid-interval review with a correction for spacing effect (see: Algorithm SM-17)
  • early review tools (e.g. Advance, Add to Outstanding, etc.)
  • semantic review tools (esp. search&review, branch review, subset, etc.)
  • overload tools (e.g. Mercy, Postpone, or similar)
  • propagating references
  • image download/localization

Other options available in SuperMemo

  • A-Factor-based article review algorithm (or similar)
  • processing attributes and formatting (e.g. extracts, cloze keywords, highlights, ignored texts, etc.)
  • source-linking and hierarchy
  • visual learning (image zooming, cropping, compressing)
  • wholesale file&folder imports (with folder hierarchies)
  • web search tools (e.g. for easy imports from dictionaries and favorite data sites)
  • popular site filters (Wikipedia, YouTube, etc.)
  • tools for automatic decomposition of data (e.g. article splitting, dismember, decompose, etc.)
  • more formats for incremental learning: video, audio, mail, etc. Also: PDF, PowerPoint, and OneNote, although it is hard to demand this as part of the definition, esp. that SuperMemo fails to support these
  • progress statistics

Free incremental reading

As of 2016, SuperMemo 15 is freeware and meets the criteria for free incremental reading

User experience is vital

mj wrote: Incremental reading was born in SuperMemo. I believe that nobody should claim to have implemented incremental reading without using it first in SuperMemo himself. The theoretical description is very different from practical applications. I believe that the text about incremental reading is very short, tools used in incremental reading are much larger, and the practical training for doing it well is even larger. This means that incremental reading is two orders of magnitude bigger than that was is written about it at SuperMemo website. I cannot imagine implementing incremental reading without using it for 2-3 years first!!! It is like designing a new sports car without ever sitting behind the wheel of any car!


Incremental reading with SuperMemo 17
Incremental reading with SuperMemo 17

Figure: A typical snapshot from an incremental reading process in SuperMemo. While learning about leptin, the student extracts important portions of the text (in blue), and marks keywords that will be used to form questions that will enhance memory in the long term (in dark orange). The questions are reviewed along a spaced repetition schedule. See this video example for an explanation. The brain picture was taken from here