For a long time I haven't been sure why I should be writing a blog. I have an idea, get frustrated, and try to write down my thoughts. If I like what I’ve written, I will publish it. But not very often.
I thought I should only publish my blog if it said something new or original. I’ve been thinking about my blog the wrong way around. A blog isn’t so much a way to push the barriers of what we know, but rather to help each of us give a topic a different spin.
Yes, most of the ideas and concepts already exist. There are articles and opinions on everything. But different people need different explanations. And every time I have to write a new article I get much better at understanding my thoughts on the subject. It’s a great way for me to learn.
Richard Feynman had a technique he used to learn or refine his knowledge on new subjects. His technique was four step - the same four steps I use to write this blog:Richard Fenyman was a famous physicist in the 20th century who made quantum mechanics and other difficult topics easy to understand.
- Pick a topic you want to learn and do a quick study of it. Write down notes, major topic themes, ideas, and concepts. Try to tie things together. And continue adding notes as you learn more.
- Try to imagine teaching the topic to a complete novice. Sit down and try to explain the topic to someone who knows nothing about it. Or imagine you’re preparing to teach a class to a bunch of freshman. Explain the concepts in a simple way that makes sense for them beyond memorizing rules. Look for the things you don’t quite know or can’t explain.
Fill in your gaps. As you find the pieces you can’t explain, go back and re-learn more about the idea. Find a new source, re-read an existing source, watch a new video or play around with the thing you’re learning in a new way. Figure out what you didn’t understand and why. Then go back and try to explain the topic again.
Simplify. Once you have a straightforward explanation for a complete novice, edit your descriptions. Use analogies. Remove complex sentences. Find different ways to say it. The explanations should be very easy. Only once you can explain a topic easily to anyone do you actually understand it.
Feynman was once asked to explain a complex part of quantum mechanics. He took a few days and ran though the process trying to figure out how to explain it to a freshman class. He couldn't and realized it was because there wasn't a consensus yet on how the process worked. He couldn't understand it and thus couldn't teach it.
In many ways, that’s my goal with this blog. I want to find ways to take what I’m learning and write about it until I can explain it. I hope that it’ll help me remember important things and be able to look back on the lessons in the future.