Spark Cards: Spaced repetition for Hunches and Ideas

Spark Cards

Summary: Flashcards that one consults via spaced repetition, that contain the hunches for ideas, and can be annotated and commented on. Using spark cards allows ideas to not be forgotten, mature and be connected to other ideas over long periods of time.


I found reference to “Spark Notes” via the HN discussion of the article “Put it on the crazy pile: Ideas and creativity” where “spark notes” are mentioned in the footnotes. The term was introduced by Steven Johnson, author of the book “Where good ideas come from” (see IdeationHub intro page). In the HN thread “spaced repetition” is mentioned.

How it works

A hunch for an idea comes and goes. Hunches are very fleeting thoughts. In order to remember them it must be as easy as possible to pen them down as soon as you have them. Both hunches and ideas are also easily forgotten about, and your notes about them never revisited. Ideas develop best if you frequently look at them and relate/reflect to what you are doing and thinking at that time. So they can be refined, connected to other ideas, or - if they make no sense at all - be discarded.

Therefore just having an ideas list - a Spark File - hanging around somewhere that is growing and growing is not enough. You need to actively re-read the list.

This is where Flashcards and Spaced repetition come in. They are a proven method for memorization and learning. And can be very well used to keep you aware of past hunches and ideas.

A Spark Cards feature for IdeationHub might have:

  • Flashcard spaced repetition of Idea lists.
  • Ability to annotate Ideas.
  • Ability to cross-reference Ideas.
  • Ability to discuss Ideas with others.
  • Ability to create new Ideas as flashcards on-the-fly.