perry is a co-worker of mine. he’s in his twenties, and makes a living doing cafe maintenance. i asked him what he does for fun and he told me, “well, i’m building a boat.”
perry laughed. “you can pretty much learn anything on the internet these days. sure, if i was formally trained i could probably do a better job and make less mistakes. but you can learn a lot of the basics on youtube.”
next, i talked to nelson, a friend who likes to talk about philosophy. “i know a lot of philosophy isn’t immediately useful, but i like learning about it because it’s stimulating.” nelson picks up dense philosophy books from the bookstore, and uses youtube and google to further research terms and concepts that he wants to know more about.
lastly, my friend nat tells me that they are so impressed by how much their friends know. “it seems like everyone knows so much stuff about random subjects. i want to be one of those people, but i don’t know where to get started.”
more and more, when i ask friends how they got good at their hobbies or work, they’ll tell me “youtube” or “google”. this is super exciting to me, and also checks out with how i’ve been learning to program. i embark on a project, get stuck, then google my problem. i look at other people’s code, watch people on youtube, then try again. soon, i am better than i was before without having to set foot in a physical classroom.
the people i want to help are the people like nat – they know they can learn anything but need someone to help them figure out their interests. cultivating curiosity, building your own curriculum, these things don’t necessarily come naturally to folks who are used to sitting in a classroom and having a teacher tell them what they need to learn. i am lucky to know so many interest-driven learners, and i am currently inspired to lend a hand to those who want to become one.
i’m back in seattle and a lot has changed. for one, my boss got fired at my day job. i liked my boss and i liked my day job. but now i have the option to leave, and i really want to. so i’m looking.
i first applied to work at a bookstore (familiar stomping grounds). i quickly received an e-mail back, but they informed me that i would likely have to work during the holiday season. i really, really don’t want to do this – i’ve worked the holiday season for many years and i’d rather not do it again. i called chey an expressed my dilemma, and she recommended i look at other industries (“not retail”) so that i could have my holidays off.
further, i’ve been doing some solid reading and writing, which is culminating into some presentation projects. one of which is at seattle’s impact hub on july 31st. i’m very excited to share that i will be giving a talk about my work at “the orbit”. you can read more about the event here.
2019 is a big year for me. we’re already halfway through it and i feel like i’ve laid down a solid foundation for self-employment, though the path right now still seems muddy. all of my friends and family have incredible confidence in me and my ability to chisel out a career for myself, which helps a lot. we will see.
my friend lito got me a game called “the witness”. it’s a series of puzzles that get increasingly more difficult. i find that i lose track of time when i’m playing this game, and usually i walk away when i am simply too frustrated to continue.
“that’s video games,” chey tells me.
lito pushed me to play “the witness” because it illustrated the concept of constructivism, which is a particular theory of how people learn. i am not an expert in constructivism, but it seems to explain the relationship between ideas and experience.
this is particularly interesting to lito because he works in education. for me, it makes me think about how i go about teaching myself new things, like programming. but in the meantime, i’m still just scratching my head over the latest puzzle in “the witness”.
i am prone to overthinking, and sometimes it feels like both a strength and a weakness. overthinking allows me to plan, to dive deep, and to understand a topic more fully. it also slows me down significantly, almost to the point of paralysis.
sometimes i overthink so much i miss my mouth when i’m eating or drinking.
there are some things in our lives that are worth examining. but oftentimes it helps to just keep our methods simple, and to follow the natural flow of our environment and our bodies. sometimes i am so busy trying to find efficiencies that i become inefficient.
shake it up. take some deep breath. go outside and enjoy yourself. once you free up your brain and “not think” for a while, you can return to your deep dives in a more productive way.
i just read this article that my friend lito sent me. its thesis is that books and lectures aren’t very good at getting their message across. this is kind of true: books and lectures do nothing if they are not applied and used.
your brain remembers what it uses and forgets what it doesn’t. this is the basis for how a lot of things stay. you could study memory for a long time and discover its peculiarities, but basically if you want to learn something and remember it, you must have some sort of external pressure to actually use the information.
this is something i could talk at length about, but let’s talk about books for a moment briefly. every time i read something, i write about it or talk about it. i am in the habit of always using what i read so that it stays in my brain. for this reason, i am also self-guided to certain books and subjects that are immediately useful. this could be called interest.
from college onwards, i have learned that some of the best research comes from focused play. if you are following your intuition and interest, you are using the information you consume, and playing with it. in turn, you will remember it , and truly know and absorb what you read.
to continue on yesterday’s post on focused play, i also have made it a point to just dig deep into my google docs. what’s funny is that when i am bored i will just poke around in my folders, organizing the files until i suddenly come up with an idea that excites me. and, i realized recently that you can create tiny websites for free with a tool called google sites. i made a small “cool directory” that you can see here.
this small website was a solution to my project problem: i have so many projects that i’ve completed and/or am working on, i realized i needed a google sheet to keep track of them all. the website serves as a more palatable way to navigate the most recent videos and streams i’ve published.
this and yesterday’s mother’s day card are both small, but i think it is important to show off the little things along with the big projects, just because it validates what you’re doing, and provides some momentum for doing more. i hope that by learning one hundred little things, it will make building the big thing that much easier.
my strategy has been to just spend time playing with the tools on glitch in order to see what is possible and what i like. i have limited resources (i’m working primarily from a chromebook and an iphone) so glitch works out really well for me because it is based online. i’ve been having a good time trying things out, even though i don’t have a clear idea of where it will lead me.