What is it that we learn?

If you don’t read this entire post, or if you take nothing else away from it, then just remember these points:

  • When you learn something, write about it, and don’t do it just to make money off it.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
  • Teaching others will help you learn.
  • Encourage collaboration by allowing a free flow of constructive comments.
  • If you make a mistake, fix it.

I think this is a winning strategy for all those who are involved in design or development blogging, as well as tutorial writing. -- Publish What You Learn by Louis Lazaris on Smashing Magazine.

My first reaction was “duh!”. But then I thought again and asked myself if I really do write about the things I learn. Obviously, I dont. Since it’s so obvious to me, the question is “why not?” It seems to boil down to a couple of reasons: First, I’m lazy. Blogging is a lot of work and I don’t always have the energy, or patience, to sit down after work and write. I also have other interests, so the lack of time doesn’t really help either. Then, I tend to over-think it. Writing a blog appears to be a major undertaking: I hardly ever manage to think of a blog as a relatively limited task, even if I don’t plan to write a comprehensive project report. Which is a bit silly because I am happily using Twitter and Posterous to capture all my not so very brilliant thoughts and comments. I could as well use it for other things. I also constantly battle my inner critic* that keeps telling me that everything has been said about a topic already, and most likely by more qualified or experienced people than me. Chances are, they are better writers, too. Of course, I know it’s stupid, it still sets the bar for myself too high to even get started. Finally, and that is the most interesting part, I don’t necessarily see the things I have learned. How could I publish them? I am constantly learning. If I should make a list of the top 5 things I have learnt during the last week, for example, I would be at a loss. Fine, I learnt some useful tricks in spreadsheets but that is probably not very exciting. Speaking of it, the actual insight I took away from this week was probably that they cannot be avoided for certain tasks, no matter how hard you try. In this particular case, I was – and still am – working on a content inventory of qt.nokia.com, and after trying to squeeze it all into a mind map I carved in, and put all the pages into a spreadsheet. The bigger thing I learnt however, was how to compile a content inventory that actually makes sense. To blog about this would surely be a major undertaking, and I am certain someone has written extensively about it already… *) Wonderful article by Denise Jacobs on the topic: Banishing Your Inner Critic on A List Apart.