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On learning in Public

I’ve been documenting a lot of what I’m learning for the last few years. Most of my learning is on writing and startups. I have been afraid of publishing my learnings online. I think at some point whenever you are thinking of starting to write online, the imposter syndrome kicks in. And that was stopping me to publish online.

But not anymore. There are many reasons to start publishing online. And it would be stupid to not do it now.

Learning in public can help you build credibility and leverage. When you are writing a blog, where you’re building up a body of work, you have no choice but to learn in public. It’s scary, but the good thing about learning in public is that you get continuous feedback, which means you aren’t delusional about the quality of work.

Why should we Learn in Public?

The generation effect explains that we learn better when we write about the topic we want to learn about. No one knows exactly why, but we better remember information when it’s created from our minds.

The usual practice of the education system, however, is giving the students tests to write after they have learned the material. They are rarely encouraged to “think on paper”.

The brain is no place for serious thinking. If you’re thinking about something important and complicated, write it down.

– Jack Altman

Writing while reading is a good way to improve the understanding of the information consumed. You can’t write about something in your own words unless you understand it.

Richard Feynman once had a visitor in his office, a historian who wanted to interview him. When he spotted Feynman’s notebooks, he said how delighted he was to see such “wonderful records of Feynman’s thinking.” “No, no!” Feynman protested. “They aren’t a record of my thinking process. They are my thinking process. I did the work on the paper.

– Sönke Ahrens — How to Take Smart Notes

There are many reasons for learning in public.

  • Power Of Compounding
  • Store of ideas
  • New ideas
  • New opportunity

Power of Compounding

Everything we do, from learning, reading, consuming, all adds up. It compounds in the future. It helps to gain a lot of knowledge over time without burning out. So when we are learning in public, whatever we are learning adds up, it becomes a part of us and that helps us in the future. But it works when we focus on one thing at a time. With patience and the power of compounding, we can achieve the biggest results.

You don’t build a strong body in a day, month, or even a year. It takes years of consistent effort. Shortcuts don’t exist, no matter how ‘smart’ you work.

Store of Ideas

When I am writing about what I am learning in one place, after some time it becomes a store of many great ideas. It helps not only other people but also myself, Help for other people is obvious, but how it’s helping me is much more interesting. It makes me more aware of what I am learning and encourages looking for learning opportunities.

It’s easy to forget what I have learned, which is the main reason not all experts can teach well. Keeping a store of ideas helps fight this effect.

New Ideas

Writing about a topic gives me more ideas for writing. The ball gets rolling, and the ideas start to reproduce. As I write, I’ll explore what I think and make new realizations. It’s hard to do that without writing. Writing is not simply putting ideas from my head on paper, it’s about thinking on paper and getting new ideas.

I think it’s far more important to write well than most people realize. Writing doesn’t just communicate ideas; it generates them. If you’re bad at writing and don’t like to do it, you’ll miss out on most of the ideas writing would have generated.

– Paul Graham — Writing, briefly

Opportunity

Every post I publish generates opportunities I didn’t know existed. It connects me to people around me in a way that benefits everyone.

Writing is the most scalable professional networking activity. Stay home, don’t go to events/conferences, and just put ideas down.

– Andrew Chen

David Perell writes about this regularly and encourages people to build their own “serendipity vehicles”. A blog is nothing more than a tool for attracting interesting people and with them, the opportunity you didn’t know existed.

Writing is the best kind of networking. By making it easy for people to find you online, you’ll create a vehicle for serendipity. Call on your vehicle when you want to manufacture serendipity, and you need some activation energy.

– David Perell — How to maximize serendipity

These are the reasons that writing what I’m learning in public is important.


Thanks for reading

If you have any comments or feedback on this article, I’d love to hear from you. The best way to reach me is on Twitter @samyakr_.

By Samyak

Russian melancholy/Derek Parfit/Doris Lessing/B.R. Ambedkar/Franz Kafka/Sol Lewitt/every film by Satoshi Kon/poetry + writing + a lot of other things.

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