I reread Hannibal last week (for the umpteenth time). In it, Thomas Harris clearly describes the “memory palace” that Lector built for himself over the years. I haven’t read The Memory Palace of Mateo Ricci because Harris describes the concept clearly.

A day or two later, I had a dream. I dreamed I had my own memory palace but that it was a memory website instead (this was actually an aside in my dream, not the main point of action). It was pretty neat to quickly click through to the information I needed to recall. Although design-wise the site was not very attractive; very plain with a black background, rounded blue menu buttons and mellow-yellow text (yes, I always dream in color).

It was the only part of that dream that I can recall. The idea stuck with me. I really like the idea of a memory website. For a number of reasons, it works for me better than trying to build a memory palace, which I tried to do after reading Hannibal the first time and just gave up.

A memory site is better for me because:

    I’m not very familiar with any structure really grand enough to make a nice memory palace and my mundane existence is too familiar. If I can’t remember where I put the keys in real life, how will I ever recall something like this in my memory palace?

    I’ve been completely immersed in web/tech stuff for the past six months and have been dabbling in it steadily for the past couple years. It’s very easy for me to think in this form now.

    I have a photographic memory. I remember text and 2D images very well and usually without any effort at all (remembering entire pages of text or illustrations used to be my method of studying for tests). I remember spaces well, but not consistently (I’ll get my lefts and rights confused). A 2D layout for my memory palace serves my quirks much better than trying to build and remember a whole structure.

    It’s a faster way of accessing information. It’s so much more convenient to click on a menu item than to go running through a hallway looking for that piece of information.

    I’ve always considered the Web the world’s biggest library. How easy to turn a reflection of that library’s basic structure to my own use.

    I know that my memories are messy. I keep things on pages of typed text (using the type from an old typewriter I used to have, although Times New Roman has recently started intruding) or as images on cards in a Rolodex that I flip through. How much simpler it will be when I build my own memory website!

I’m excited by the idea. I’m sure that others have thought of this by now and have their own sites working for them. I just like the idea because it came to me in a dream. I’ll have to redesign the site, though (it was awful!).

To add to the challenge, I’m going to try and make everything accessible within three clicks from the home page. That’s what real designers are supposed to shoot for. That will make things interesting in the building of this site. I’ll have to really organize things. (At least I won’t have to worry about using JavaScript menus or browser incompatibilities with my memory site!) And no, there won’t be a Search box. That sort of negates the whole effort of building a memory site in the first place, doesn’t it?

If more people build memory sites it could become a question on a standardized personality test. What does it mean if a person allows Google ads on their site? Or if they allow all sorts of junk pop-up windows? How about if they create a mental blog and get nasty responses in return? What about if they try to access pages and constantly get a “404 Error” or if the little upload bar never fills up? Or what about those who get sick of their sites and redo them every month or so, completely rearranging things until they have no idea where they’ve put anything?

This is the best, personal idea I’ve had in a while. It’s also a bit of a sign I need to move onto new hobbies. A couple nights after the memory site dream, I had a sex dream featuring two web designers (whom I’ve never met) having sex and talking about CSS (this was their on-site movie). Geek overload for sure.

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