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How to Remember Everything You’ve Ever Read

When it comes to new products and technologies, there’s useful, followed by must-have…but then there’s just-plain-cool.  This is the first of a three-part mini-series by MetaJure co-founder Kevin Harrang about just-plain-cool technologies that are quietly changing our world and inspiring how we think about improving the practice of law.  

Since the Ancient Greeks we’ve debated whether human memory, like the athlete’s body, can be improved by exercise.  For a good article on this, see An Ancient and Proven Way to Improve Memorization, New York Times, March 24, 2016.

OK…I would like to claim that I remembered where this article was published as I wrote this post.  But, alas, even though it was only a few months ago, about the only thing I could remember was that it was about memorization.  (So much for improving my memory…)

Still, it only took me a few seconds to find it.  How?  The secret is not the “memory palace” method mentioned in the article, but rather the Web reading tool I use called Pocket . Whenever I come across an online article that I want to read, I click on the Pocket icon on my browser, tablet, or smartphone, and the app reformats it into a nicely readable form without ads or pop-ups.

Not only that, but it stores all the articles that I read in a personal account.  The basic version is free, and with a premium version I get additional features like mobile access and persistent cloud storage (that ensures access if something happens to the original link).  And, Pocket is just one of a number of such Web reading tools, including Readability and Instapaper.

By far, the most useful feature of all of these apps is Search.  For example, to find the article I wanted for this post, I only had to type “memory” into the search box and it came up first.  When you save articles, you can apply word tags like health or travel, and there’s a way to mark articles as favorites.  But I noticed that I was more likely to forget what I’d tagged the article than what the article was about.  Search works just as well without tags, so now, I never bother.

If you’re unimpressed, think about the potential here: imagine the future when most all reading and writing is accomplished electronically.  Apps like Pocket could be the repository of everything you’ve ever written or read—in your lifetime.  Forget about the memory palace (pun intended), you could literally recall everything you’ve ever read.  Total recall would be close to a reality.

I mention Pocket because we have a similar vision with our own product, MetaJure.  If you want to find a document, we don’t think you should have to remember where it is in your organization to open it.  Finding documents should be as easy as finding the article about memorization I read some time ago.  Now, thanks to MetaJure and Pocket, you can do both.    And isn’t that what cool technology is all about?

Kevin Harrang is a co-founder of MetaJure, which makes next-generation smart document management technology and an avid reader.