The allure of buzzphrases

I stumbled upon the phrase “learning in public” from my interest in note taking. I’d read Ahrens, S. (2017) and was checking out the Zettelkasten part of Youtube. Zettelkasten didn’t interest me but I was intrigued by the thought of that big box full of notes and wanted to know more. The more videos I watched the more I started to hear the phrase “evergreen notes”. I didn’t know how this related to Zettelkasten and after a second on Google I found Andy Matuschak and watched one of his saved twitch streams he posted on Youtube. I also visited his web page where he mentioned learning in public and working with the garage door up. At the time I interpreted this to just being open about what you’re thinking about even if your thoughts are not fully formed.

It sort of gave me a push to actually think about starting to do something with the notes I’ve been hoarding and the knowledge I did have and also the joy of the process. Maybe share my new found zest for knowledge with the world even? When I was young I wanted to be in academia but doing my bachelors and my master I realized that although I enjoy learning, working in academia was not for me. Now I’m older, I have very little time but that curiosity is still there.

I like learning and I like talking about what I know and what I want to know more about. So I thought that this is what I can do. I can learn in public. Share what think I know. I can talk to other people and find other stuff I want to know as well. I can have a reason for this, not just have it for my own enjoyment.

What I didn’t realize when all these bursts of excitement was firing was that he was actually describing a sort of movement. One that was started long before I came across this phrase.

On the Obsidian Discord I came across this article and even though it’s not the authors intention I felt embarrassed. Not only was I, a soft science type of gal, encroaching on the world of software developers and other CS peeps. I was also at risk of falling into the trap of adding to the noise. Does the internet really need one more person putting up blog posts and Youtube videos about topics that have been discussed ad nauseam already? Did the world need yet another review of Atomic Habits?

I felt discouraged but after some thinking I realised that everyone deserves their place online. There’s no wait list where someone vets you before you are handed a WordPress blog. You don’t have to complete a course before starting a Youtube channel. What you do need to be weary of are buzzwords. As with all things in this world: check your sources. Luckily Delano set me straight before I started throwing around a cool phrase I didn’t know the origin of. One that might also signal to people that I’m something I’m not. Even though I think we can all agree that no one would mistake me for a software developer…

So what am I doing? Well I’m still gonna be learning, and I’ll be posting about it. So I guess I’m learning in public? Just without the hashtag.

I’m gonna leave you with a quote from one of my favourite books, Fahrenheit 451.

“You’re afraid of making mistakes. Don’t be. Mistakes can be profited by. Man, when I was younger I shoved ignorance in peoples faces. They beat me with sticks. By the time I was forty my blunt instrument had been honed to a fine cutting point for me. If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you’ll never learn.”

As long as you are willing to actually learn, never be afraid to run the risk of being corrected. But don’t rely on others correction on your learning path. Take responsibility not just for your own learning but also for the kind of content you put out there.

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