In my schizotypal exploration of the graph that extends out from any given paper I try to read, I always pine for a less expensive way to learn all that … stuff, only well enough to read the original paper, of course. I criticize my friends whose first instinct is to “take a class” when they want to learn something, mostly because I’ve never learned anything from any of the classes I’ve ever taken … equivocating on “learn”, of course. Similarly, I see my friends whip through, say, Consilience by EO Wilson, which took me 3 times as long, and as much more effort, to read. And I think “What’s wrong with me?” An interesting side-effect is that most of the books I’ve read have my scribblings (in pencil! … I’m not a monster.) in the margins and any blank space in the back offering naive objections to silly tangents and brain farts I had while reading it.
It’s gotten so bad, now, that I hardly even read books anymore. If/when I do, I read like 10 books at a time, hopping from one to the other, conflating whose idea went where and assembling a Rube Goldberg machine conception of whatever the hell it was I was exploring.
In any case, I purposefully decided about a year ago to spend more time playing video games. One of the interesting features of my game-playing is that I much prefer playing the same game several times over serially playing different games. There’s something about the way these modern games are designed that helps them “unfold” as you play, or alternatively allows you to “relax into them” as you play. It’s very distinct from the “read the instructions then play the game” approach I was used to as a kid. It’s true that I prefer less linear, more open world games. But even so, it seems fundamentally similar to how I learn any other thing. There also seems to be some “aliveness” aspect. Even if I tend to play alone, multiplayer games are way more interesting … more learnable than single player games, which simply feel dead, no matter how well-programmed their AIs are.
The article cited at the top touches on all this nicely. But there’s still something missing from his conception. And I can’t quite put my finger on it. It has something to do with the dynamism of knowledge. Static knowledge isn’t knowledge. It’s somehow impoverished … maybe call that dead stuff “information” or “data”. Knowledge is somehow “alive”, explorable, open-ended, and non-linear.