What The Fuck Do I Know?

Gokul N K
Gokul N K
Dec 9, 2019 · 8 min read
At-least I know that I don’t know.

Not Much. But that is ok. I have made my peace with it. In fact this has helped me a lot. I have started enjoying a lot of things, without thinking what people will think about me because I know the extent of my ignorance. You should try this too. It will liberate you.

This is the TLDR version and I will be linking to this post in all my future posts.

Read on for the longer version.

I don’t claim to know everything. In fact with every passing day I am realising that I know less. I will strive to learn from feedback provided by others. Please provide brutal feedback in a gentle way.

The above is an excerpt from my Declaration of Intent that I created for the year 2018. Let me tell you why I wrote Declaration of Intent.

During 2018, I wanted to write about many things and share them. But I was always under self doubt.

Do I know enough to share what I know? May be others will find what I write to be silly. May be what I write about is very mundane. Everybody already knows about it. Yada Yada Yada.

At that time I was learning about promises in Javascript and I had many questions. I didn’t find any blogs which covered this topic to the extent I had wished. So I made a list of all the questions that were still unanswered and wrote Understanding of Promises. The article went on to gather 18k claps. I had not even imagined any of my article to cross in 1k claps. But this one went on much beyond that. It was even in the top read article in HackerNoon for that month.

Of-course I felt happy about the success. But I was more curious about something else. It was the realisation that there were many people who had similar questions and they found my article useful. I was not an expert at Promises or Javascript but my learnings helped many people. This was a revelation for me.

I wanted to do this more often. So I created my “Declaration of Intent” which helped me overcome my Impostor Syndrome. But I still had one question : Where do I stand?

Where do I stand?

For that matter I don’t claim to know more than most of the people. I think I am somewhere close to 75 percentile. This is just a gut feeling and I would like to get a better estimate of this over the time. Earlier I used to feel bad for not being in the 95 percentile and sometimes I even used to be dejected. But of late I have realised that it is a great place to be at.

Here is the reason. I have around 25% people who are better than me from whom I can learn. And whatever I know or whatever I learn can help 75% of people. So I think it is a sweet spot. The problem I have observed with many 95 percentilers is that they only target 95 percentilers and that excludes majority of the people. I try to be conscious enough so that I don’t make the same mistake.

I want to be a quick learner who can learn from the 25 percentile and write for the remaining 75 percentile. So I will be doing what I love, learning most of my life and building a distribution channel by writing for the 75 percentile. These percentiles change with subjects. I am not getting into such details for now. I am working with ball park figures :P

Do I want to know everything?

No. I don’t. I would like to know only things that interest me or those that will be helpful to me.

I would like to know things that won’t change over the next few decades or centuries for that matter. I would like to know things that will have an impact on the world.

I would like to know about things that can have an impact on me, how I live, things that can have an impact on people living around me, things that can help me help others.

I would like to know things that help me technically/professionally. This used to be high on my list but it has come down now. The fact that I am moving from the role of an Individual Contributor to that of an Engineering Manager could be one of the reasons.

Butterflies in my stomach as a kid

These days I like to read and learn about things that trigger my curiosity and makes me have “butterflies in stomach” feeling which I used to have more often as a kid. I want to increase the frequency of that feeling again.

I still remember the first time I got to know about prime numbers. It was also the time I got a computer and an internet connection. I think it was when I was in ninth standard.

I was so damn curious that I spent almost a week on internet reading up all I could read about prime numbers, their patterns, co-primes, perfect numbers, cryptography and Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search.

I want to do more things that give me that feeling. I want to read more about things that take me to rabbit holes and lets me be lost in them. I have shortlisted a couple of such rabbit holes which keep interconnecting and makes it more interesting. I will share that with you in a while. If you share my interests, do leave a comment. We can chat up.

Why write this post titled WTFDIK?

The declaration of Intent helped me cross the first stage of hesitance. It worked well for me till now. But going forward I am planning to increase the frequency of my writing. I am planning to write about a few topics for which many people consider being successful a pre-requisite. The definition of success varies widely and I don’t think I have made use of potential to the level I could have. These things had made me a little hesitant about writing such topics.

Recently I was discussing with a friend and he mentioned that my thoughts had helped him. I was not able to use them effectively in my own life but it had a positive impact on him. So it got me thinking just because I was not able to put it to good use doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t share it with other. So I have decided to share my thoughts more frequently. I will also keep working on these ideas and post updates about it. It might work for you or it may not. If it works great. If it doesn’t, give me feedback.

I am writing this post so that I can link to this in each of my posts and not worry about me being right/wrong all the time. I am writing this post to clear the air for myself and others. More so for me.

Going forward every time I have such feelings I will come back and read this post. As I mentioned I will include the link to this post in all the posts going forward so that I can successfully suppress the the thought that I am being pretentious(which can be a serious hindrance to write).

Our own mind can be a tricky enemy at times. So it is better to know how it can trick us and devise plans to not fall for it. This article is an attempt at that.

What are the things I find interesting

I am always fascinated by things that expose my ignorance and inabilities. I read a couple of tweets or books and I feel like “How the hell did I not know this or think like this?”

Generally when I am reading about certain topics I loose track of time. That is going to be the deciding factor for me going forward ;). I want to do more of things where I am so involved that I loose track of time.

Following are the couple of of such rabbit holes for me.

Psychology

Humans are an intriguing species. The way their minds work is amazing. Why do we do what we do? Why do we say what we say? Why do we do wrong things, even when we know that it is wrong? Why don’t we do good things, though we know that they are beneficial to us? How do we interact with each other? Why do we compete? Why do we cooperate?

These are some of the questions that I find interesting in psychology.

Epistemology

Learning is a life long interest for me. In the era of information overload how do we differentiate information from knowledge? How is knowledge organised? How do we identify our blind spots? Is metadata more important that data? How do we make sure that we leverage the learnings of others? How do we organise knowledge? How do we make it searchable? How do we capture the context? How do we find the patterns? Is organised learning better than random learning? How do we know what we know? How do we realise what we don’t know?

And many more questions.

Money

What is money? What is inflation? What is FIAT? What is Bitcoin? What are cryptocurrencies? Should I earn more money? How do I safeguard money? How to leverage money? What is the relationship between money and time? Should I value money or time? Using money as motivation? Can money enable incentive alignments? When people are no more excited about money what excites them?

Life

What is the purpose of life? What does success mean? Happiness or utility? Emotions or Impact? How to be productive? How to be effective? What should I optimise for? How to build a distribution channel? What are my learnings? Entertainment or Learning? Goals or directions?

Javascript

Will Javascript still rule the web? What will be the role of WASM? v8 engines and others a comparison? What is reactive programming? Why Functional programming? What are Closures? What are Monads? Performance and Profiling, Debugging, D3, React, Event loop.

Urban Planning

Mass transport and Last Mile Connectivity, Eco friendly alternatives, Sustainable growth, Role of IT in citizen awareness, How can people come together and organise themselves.

Advaitha Philosophy

How to be an observer? How does Advaitha philosophy explain cause and action? What is Karma and how does it related to western philosophies? What is the role of Incarnation in Advaitha philosophy?

If you read till here may be we have some common interests. If that is the case I am sure that you spend a lot time reading online and also make notes. Checkout why we need to create a knowledge base and tag it. Once you are done reading that post, don’t forget to share your highlights and notes with me.

Gokul N K

Written by

Gokul N K

Inquisitive, Student, Teacher and a wanna be Story teller. Working on https://learningpaths.io/

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