How I learn

I always had the fascination for technology – “how does it work?” – was my first question, maybe followed by – “how can I control it?”. Being a child we absorb all kinds of information, regardless of the utility. As we grow up eventually we start asking – “how fast can I learn about it” and “do I need this knowledge?”

The most famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes claimed people have finite information capacity and that he would try to forget as soon as possible whatever information fed to him that he deemed irrelevant for his work. I believe the argument is pretty good and specially true for the ones growing with the greatest communication system available, the Internet. With it you can access all kinds of information and everyday you hear people say with great pride – “Oh I know/heard/read about that. ” – is it that people are happily discovering by themselves what fascinates them the most everyday? Is it planned at all?

I strongly believe it’s not planned at all at least for the big majority of the internet population, but lets step back for a moment. On the extreme case can a whole life be planned depending on devices to guide us and feed us information? With nanotechnology on the rise, maybe, but i’ll say no for now. Can we still take value from randomly scouring the internet? Well yes and if there is something the human race is great at is filtering visual information iteratively. It should be no surprise for web developers that if a webpage is not well designed, the intrinsic iterative process that may have led the users there will trigger during inspection, if the user doesn’t immediately see value for himself, the likelihood of returning to the webpage is very close to 0. But we are not in the 90’s anymore, this concept is pretty well known and many webpages know how to captivate their users. Because there is little sense of direction or location the only option left for the user is to bookmark a website, that way it’s possible to come back quickly without remembering what were the steps for accessing “useful” information. There is a concept in computer science related to this: look-ups

Time is the most expensive investment, the knowledge base is getting bigger and bigger, no wonder we have to recur to methods for “indexing” information so that we know where to get it, when we need it. The hardest thing to assess is if we should really invest in some topics or not. I for one wish to believe that we should keep the brain fit on the treadmill, upon the problems we want to project meaning. Curiosity is great but the brain has limitations, it’s up to the people to make the best use of what they were given by heritage along with the ever-evolving tools technology provides us.

How fast can I learn about it? Now I would say, as fast as my capabilities allow AND as long as I really need it otherwise favourite and forget.

Some $references that made me think about knowledge externalization:

1 – Paul Graham on how you know

2 – Design of everyday things

3 – Science magazine on internet abstraction

4 – Michio Kaku on nanotechnology

Matjaz Trcek
Matjaz Trcek
SRE @ Magnolia CMS

Working as an SRE in Magnolia CMS. In my free time I work on many side projects some of which are covered in this blog.