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Fortnightly Links No.38 — Holiday Best Of

Fortnightly Links No.38 — Holiday Best Of

Curiosity • Reflection • Musk • Feynman • Polymaths • Bullet-Proof

I hope you enjoyed the holidays and managed some time off. This week we are sending a special issue with some of the most popular articles of the last 6-7 months. A good way to recap what we’ve been reading and to glean some new insights as we all start a new year with new goals to achieve.

Before the review though; I also included the last original article we published in 2016, Lifelong Machine Learning, you should check it out. And if you missed them, our top three articles on the magazine this year were The Restless Multidisciplinarian, Learning invisibly and Do Textbooks Still Matter? (and books as society’s operating system).

Lifelong Machine Learning

E-180 Mag • 7 min read

I’ve been meaning to connect machine learning with people’s progress in life enabled by curiosity and learning. Scott David brings an interesting perspective to that question and explains how “through our personal data, we will have the opportunity to train our own teachers and become hybrid learners.”

A knowledge-based revolution, powered by machine learning, is going to hit the business world and bring with it a paradigm shift for how companies structure themselves and interoperate. Businesses will utilise new and commoditised technology-driven techniques to learn, optimise and evolve.

The Art of Curiosity

Ian Sanders • 9 min read

Sanders presents “a manifesto for living a more curious life.” What if you became more curious, how companies are born from it, taking licence to be, unplanning, listening and 6 ways to inject curiosity in your life.

But I had been in the right mindset: my curiosity senses were heightened and I took action to turn it into something tangible.

The Missing Key to Productivity Is Reflection

Jocelyn K. Glei • 4 min read

It’s not only about “getting shit done” nor just practice. Productivity, growth and learning also need reflection. Looking back on what we’ve done boosts performance, understanding and self-efficacy.

The study tackled the question of what really drives learning: Is it, as we’ve been taught for years, the idea that “practice makes perfect”? Is experience—or the act of doing—the key to learning? Or is it that we learn through reflecting on that experience?

How Elon Musk Learns Faster And Better Than Everyone Else

The Mission • 7 min read

Musk “think pieces” are a dime a dozen but I liked this one because it actually assembles some of the other memes around “Tony Stark” in one learning narrative.

The success of expert-generalists throughout time shows that this is wrong. Learning across multiple fields provides an information advantage (and therefore an innovation advantage) because most people focus on just one field.

The Feynman Technique

Farnam Street • 3 min read

Shane Parrish with a quick recap of the Feynman technique. How to simplify / explain a topic, teach it, identify gaps and review.

Not only is this a wonderful recipe for learning but it’s also a window into a different way of thinking that allows you to tear ideas apart and reconstruct them from the ground up.

Master of Many Trades

Aeon Magazine • 11 min read

Basquiat, Banksy and Battista. I really enjoyed this piece on polymaths, it introduces the term monopath, looks at today’s inclinations towards specialization vs some historical polymaths. It also covers how the chemistry of our brains changes through time and learning, links to art and physicality to finish on an hypothetical but intriguing idea for a new area of study; polymathics.

The real master has no tools at all, only a limitless capacity to improvise with what is to hand. The more fields of knowledge you cover, the greater your resources for improvisation.

Polymathics might focus on rapid methods of learning that allow you to master multiple fields. It might also work to develop transferable learning methods. A large part of it would naturally be concerned with creativity — crossing unrelated things to invent something new.

Shipping vs. Learning

Mike Industries • 6 min read

Though it’s focused on software development, the method (or change of perspective) he proposes here is excellent. Thinking of what we can learn before we think of what we can ship. Fantastic shift idea and so much is “digital” these days, it can be applied to virtually everything you might be doing.

A provocative approach would be to prioritize learning as the most important regular deliverable of engineering/product/design teams.

Signal, Space, Structure: Designing for Communities of Interest

Medium • 6 min read

An excellent article by Christina Xu about fostering communities. How to draw the attention of people, pick and animate a space and structure the community.

The fact is, every single community assembles for different reasons, has different properties and needs, operates in different contexts, and evolves differently over time. We can wax poetic about network theory and strategies and tactics all day long, but in the end, community building and maintenance will always come down to strenuous, emotionally draining labor that’s often under appreciated and misunderstood. Burnout, as an organizer, is almost an inevitability.

Never Stop Learning: How Self-Education Creates a Bullet-Proof Career

99U • 8 min read

Four ways to ignite your passion for learning, including exploring unrelated subjects and making learning a habit. Followed by various ways to take control of your quest for learning, from groups to a commonplace book.

Learning is the lifeblood of a fruitful career. And it’s available to you right now. It’s neither a personality trait nor a gift. It takes humility to admit that we have much to learn, but this realization can be a catalyst to the kind of lifelong learning that helps us improve, thrive, and contribute in a way that is deeply meaningful to ourselves and others.

Patrick Tanguay

Editor-in-Chief for E-180 Publications. Obsessively curious transdisciplinary thinker and learner. I help connect people and ideas.