Introducing Learning Loops
A small experiment in actually learning from what we consume online
Why do we crave learning, but systematically deprive ourselves of it?
Why do we spend our time skimming articles we don’t retain, producing content we hardly research, and generally staying stuck in our ways of thinking?
Can we do a lot more for our brains with a lot less effort?
I think so, and I’m going to run a bit of an experiment to see if I can build better learning loops for myself and for anyone else that is interested in participating. You can think of it like a book club in your inbox, except a lot simpler and easier to do, focused on the kinds of stuff I write about (how great stuff will be built in the future, generally).
A scientist’s view on how to change your mind
In the lab we endlessly pursued quality in learning — what biases were we introducing via the method, how tight of a feedback loop were we getting on our hypothesis, etc. So it has always bothered me how poorly we do this with what we consume online. We just don’t construct the process in a way that can possibly work.
Unbiased learning happens via a few core steps:
Observe the world
Form our own beliefs
Collect information to prove or disprove those beliefs
Rinse and repeat
Obviously, most people are not doing this when we skim Twitter or our inbox of newsletters. We rarely form our own beliefs before reading the opinions of others, so we can’t possibly build and refine our own models of the world. We float down the stream of opinion and pretend we’re swimming.
A ridiculously simple experiment at better learning loops
Rather than just producing more articles this year, I’d like to encourage better learning loops on things that have the power to change your thinking. This is for myself first and foremost, but I hope it provides value to others as well. Here’s how it will work:
I’ll pick something I think is great — an article, video, new product, whatever. I’ll include that in an email without any of my own thinking, so you can explore it out on your own.
A week later, after you’ve had time to form your own views on it, I’ll send you mine and any others I’ve found or been sent that are worth sharing.
The difference between consuming to consume, and consuming with the intention of forming your own views that will be challenged by others, is night and day. Hopefully we can get a bit more of that, and discover some great stuff together in the process.
The first loop: on focus
Sound fun? Then let’s give it a shot. The first thing I’d recommend you to read with care is this piece “Almost everyone I’ve met would be well-served thinking more about what to focus on” from Henrik Karlsson. I’m not going to give away what I think about it, but a lot of people (myself included) tend to explore these topics at the beginning of January, so the timing is good.
I’ll send you my thoughts on it next week so we can virtually compare notes. Or send me yours before then and I might include them. Until then, happy reading.
P.S. speaking of learning, I’d love to hear if this resonates and if so what you’d like to get out of it. Perhaps we can work together to find some great stuff to co-consume :)