Knowledge is Free, Learning Costs You

Knowledge is power. Power is not shared. It remains institutionalized, parceled out to the few and is usually affirmed by a seal and sanction of an Institution. Knowledge had been monopolized by educational institutions, Universities and Boards. The few who had the aptitude, or the means, had access to this training and subsequent rewards. The rest languish in a vicious cycle of intellectual and economic mediocrity.

With the Internet, all this has changed. Knowledge is available in abundance. With arrival of MOOCs, this knowledge is at least a subset of what is offered in elite educational institutions. Udacity and Coursera are leading the charge here. Even before the MOOCs, there was MITs OpenEdu program. There are podcasts, websites, guides..heck knowledge flowed freely even through Torrents as ebooks and video lectures, beyond the standard Hollywood fare and porn.

With all this glut what seems to be scarce is our propensity to learn. Our curiosity has not deepened, it does not burn us yet. Our love of learning has either diminished or stayed the same. We still look to the old stimulants of economic rewards and social recognition to be nudged forward. Of course external motivations are important but the propensity to learn can be more effective when driven by a love of learning, by a desire to understand something truly, to build something of value using that knowledge.

But learning takes effort. This effort is more or less the same whether you learn from an Institution or on your own. With the glut of knowledge available online, one only needs a computer and connectivity to the Internet to join the information revolution. But what is lacking is our willingness to pay the price for learning. Guess it is much easier to pay money and have an institution declare we know something!

The time we spend on Facebook or Twitter is attention that could be purposefully spent elsewhere. Whether you wish to learn Rhetorical Composition, Systematic Program Design or Startup Engineering the best minds and generous hearts have conspired to ensure knowledge is free. You only need to pay for it with your curiosity, willingness to learn and perseverance.

What have you learnt lately?

Alphabets – By Google

I wondered, what if Algorithm and Commerce alone were to instruct our future. Using Google as a proxy, I typed the letters of the English alphabet to see what was returned. Results below. My thoughts at end of list.

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A for Amazon

A for Amazon

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B for Best Buy

B for Best Buy

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C for Craigslist

C for Craigslist

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D for Dictonary

D for Dictonary

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E for ESPN

E for ESPN

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F for Facebook

F for Facebook

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G for Google

G for Google

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H for Hotmail

H for Hotmail

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i for iPhone5

i for iPhone5

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J for JC Penny

J for JC Penny

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K for Kohl's

K for Kohl's

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L for Lowes

L for Lowes

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M for MapQuest

M for MapQuest

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N for Netflix

N for Netflix

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O for Old Navy

O for Old Navy

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P for Pandora

P for Pandora

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Q for Quotes

Q for Quotes

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R for RedBox

R for RedBox

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[clear]

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S for Sears

S for Sears

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T for Target

T for Target

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U for USPS

U for USPS

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V for Verizon

V for Verizon

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W for Walmart

W for Walmart

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X for X-Factor

X for X-Factor

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[clear]

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Y for YouTube

Y for YouTube

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Z for Zillow

Z for Zillow

[/col_1_2]

[clear]

Highlights

  • All entries for letter G are Google properties
  • iPhone is the only product on entire list
  • Dictionary at D is either insatiable curiosity or utter ignorance
  • Love at L is 4th, after Louis Vuitton at 3rd
  • And A for Amazon?! WTF?

Heuristics for Learning

I learn best when left to chose my topic or when confronting a problem I wish to solve. It is fortunate I am presumptuous enough to attempt solving every problem I come across ;).

Also, as an aside, it should be no coincidence that I learnt the little that I know once I got out of school.

As a self-learner I continuously look for aids that would accelerate the learning process. So, this ‘Teaching Manifesto‘, was an excellent find. Though rendered from the perspective of a teacher, these methods are as relevant to the student.

Some quotes that struck a chord in me:

Fight mediocrity

Use words well

Fight apathy

Don’t wait for an expert to fix it.

Remember: The only formulas are thinking and love and hard work.

There is more where that came from, head there by clicking here.