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.