The USS Quad Damage

My mental wierdness

It's not as great or useful as nathan's, and it really shows my screwed up brain rather than anything useful, but hey! It's mental, it's wierd, so I thought I'd write a little on it.

It's remembering names, or rather, not remembering them. Actually, I have a great deal of trouble remembering anything at all. This is something I think a lot of nerdy types have, which is probably why they insist on knowing how something works as opposed to what the answer is. Paulo said he had it (didn't remember / didn't have to remember anything for 4u maths), but I doubt it's anything near as severe as mine.

Names have absolutely no connection with anything, and for neural paths, it's imperative to form connections to things. Names are entirely arbitrary, non-unique, and not representative of any part of an individual. I could meet a Michael that's a total arsehole, a Michael I don't mind so much, and a Michael that's great (incidently, I know about 4 Michaels, 6 Andrews, and 2 Johns, not including the ones I'm forgetting, or the ones I refer to by last name). So names are a bitch to remember. If there's any advantage to names, it's that they're distinctly different to other words. "Golf" or "Stranglehold" are clearly exceptions as far as names go.

I have 3 "types of memory" for names: One for the people I don't really know: Sparse matrix / word association with index. One for people I see every so often but not every day/week: Name sets, and one for people I've known for a long time: longterm memory.

Let's cover longterm memory first, since it's not wierd, or interesting, at all. I remember names of people I've known for a long time. People like old school or uni friends, family, and Tenille English. This is because there is a rich tapestry of (real or imagined) memories which link their faces to names. Think of some prime-time drama (or Neighbours, if you must), where the characters all come up and do "their thing", and their name pops up on a caption.

Name Sets are a set of names associated with a bunch of people. You tend to see people in chunks. People at work, you'll see at work, people in Hapkido, you'll see in Hapkido, people from school, you'll see at... pool... which rhymes with school. In any case, you can remember everyone's name in a set, instead of each individual person. For example, you can remember that there's a {Sam, Eli, Tristan, Tony, etc... } in that group. You can use elimination to figure out who's who. I think most people encounter that with {nathan, Michael} (as in, mixing them up sometimes shows you remember them as a single entity, and then split them up using context), or, in the case of Hapkido and Charles, {Sunny, nathan}, which makes no sense whatsoever.

Unlike Charles, name sets make a great deal of sense, since it's improbable you'll be meeting more than one set of people at any one time, and if you meet one of them, it's no real loss to remember the whole lot, except it takes a little while to figure out the name of the one person that's present. For example, I met Gavin at the train once, and it just took me a while to eliminate everyone from the Hapkido group (male, teen, not Darren, not Shaun) to get to Gavin (Gavin being in the Hapkido set).

Most people I don't really know go into my really queer sparse matrix set, with the exception of people with names like "Angelique" or "Anna Priscilla", which you can't possibly forget. The trouble is, there's no real association to anything when it comes to people you don't know. Maybe who introduced you, like "Priya's friend", or something defining about them, but that doesn't help with the name itself.

A sparse matrix is a matrix which is mostly zeros. We can look at the set of all possible names as a sparse matrix, with bigger numbers for things you associate with the name. For example, "Shaun Micallef" is a name which most people already know. So there are small clusters of words in this matrix which are nonzero, everything else is 0. So, to remember a name, all you have to do is know the index of the cluster, and the index of the name in the cluster. Easy.

Further, you can remember a name in the cluster that holds some significance (kinda like a page boundary in memory management), and use elimination like in name sets. Since the significant name is not the person's name (usually), I remember their name as "Not *significant name*".

I can see an example is needed. June's fiance Alex is a classic case of someone I don't meet too often. I remember his name as "not Eric", since Eric is someone from high school, who's name is in longterm memory, and is the most significant name of his kind. From elimination, I eventually figure out that it's Alex (they're similar, both 4 letters, with an e, a 'c'ish fricative, 'x' & 'c' being similar, and an 'r' fricative, since 'l' & 'r' are similar).

Another example is John and Paul. This guy I knew a while back was named John, so I remembered him as "not Paul". John and Paul are connected through the pope's name "Pope John Paul". Paul was a friend of my dad's, who I only met, or heard about, once. I remember Paul's name because it's in my longterm memory, and he was the first name of his cluster that I heard.

Incidently, if there was a guy named "Bob", I'd be fucked.