We should all be learning in public

The stories we tell ourselves

Afterthoughts: The Dark Forest by Liu Cixin

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We should all be learning in public; the status quo, however, is to learn in private. When we learn anything – be it for school, a hobby, or work – it is often a means to an end. Once the end is reached, the learning sinks into the depths of our minds. If, however, we spend the time to actively share our learnings, our efforts will result in an overwhelming net-positive on society.

The most popular mediums for the sharing of our mental wealth is through twitter, a personal blog, and a podcast. These would be considered the low hanging fruit whereby the upfront investment is minimal. Anyone can tweet things. Making a personal blog is simple enough even using the bog-standard templates on WordPress. Podcasting can be easy since the editing involves trimming the silences of an audio file provided you can record with what you have available like a phone. Once these things are up and running, adding incremental tweets, blog posts, or podcast episodes becomes frictionless.

After something is made available online, its value can be realised by others. The whole point of learning in public is to share the fruit of one’s effort in learning something, be it a technical concept or an abstract idea. The presentation of the learning would be unique to you, and might conceivably be helpful to others trying to learn the same thing. I go into more depth about the benefits of sharing creative work here.

Learning publicly is also a strategic ploy. Aside from the interest-generating mechanism of making available learnings, it also helps you to build an audience. To what end you may ask? Well, the subset of the population that follows you would likely be kindred spirits. It would be those that resonate with what you are sharing, and who knows what types of opportunities might arise through that community?

The other consequence is that if you build an online persona, a reputation if you will, that would engender goodwill. Having the audience, and their trust is no small thing. There are so many instances where having them is so beneficial e.g. if you are looking for a sounding board, looking to find people to collaborate with, to test out new projects. Funnily enough, it is like some advice I was given about LinkedIn when I was in high school: we should connect and engage with people we know, because although you might not need use of the network now, in five years or so if you are looking for a job, it will be your most valuable resource.

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