New Scientist cites Chao Lu of China, who was able to recite 67,890 digits of pi from memory in 2005, making him a world memory champion. I found theÂ method used by memory champions interesting:
Many of them use a mnemonic method. Before starting to memorize a number, they associate a person or object with each four-digit number from 0000 to 9999. The digits of pi can then be translated into a sequence of these people and objects, which the memoriser links by making up a story. This helps add interest to the random sequence of numbers and pegs down the memory.
The power of storytelling and narratives is not a new discovery. Marketers have long known the power of narratives, and have been backing up those assertions withÂ hard science. And long before mass marketers existed, cavemen relied on narratives to share and pass along to generations critical information for survival. Memory champions’ use of storytelling, even applied to one’s self, is yet another reinforcement of how important narratives are to the performance of our brains and our human race.
Which makes me wonder: If storytelling is so fundamental to humanity’s performance, then howÂ come the art, science and practical application of storytelling isn’t more stressed in childrearing, education and work? It remains a subtle backdrop, yet incredibly influential in all that we do (or don’t do).Â Storytelling should not be limited to Hollywood, literary fiction and creative writing classes. Storytelling is inextricably linked to effectiveness, so it should be prioritized and nurtured as such.
(Photo credit:Â blythe_d)