The ‘Playlist’ is Dead. Long Live the ‘Learnlist’

Jordan Poulton
Oct 18, 2019 · 3 min read

Here at Future Builders, we believe that learning happens everywhere, not just in formal ‘courses’ and classrooms. People tend to think that time spent watching videos on Udemy or Coursera counts as ‘learning’, whereas most of us tend to view the Medium blogs, Youtube vids and podcasts we listen to each day not as learning, but as entertainment.

Seems funny, no? And here in 2019, the line seems to have gotten a little blurry, doesn’t it?

Recently, we ran a marketing experiment around a product idea that we describe as ‘like Spotify for learning’. It rests on the belief that the world is brimming with high-quality, engaging learning content — so much so that nowadays the hardest thing for a keen learner is sifting through all the dross, listicles and clandestine-sales pitches to find the useful, value-adding materials.

We thought — what if we could curate all the world’s information into useful, easily consumable playlists of learning content?

And boy, did our community love the idea.

So today, we’d like to introduce you all to a neologism — one that we’ll probably be using a lot in the weeks and months ahead…

Learnlist — /ləːnlɪst/


noun: learnlist; plural noun: learnlists

1. A collection of learning materials collated together into a single consumable unit.

“I have all of Paul Graham’s best blogs stored in a sort of ‘playlist of learning content’… A… Learnlist, if you will”

2. a) A single place to store and recall content that you value

2. b) A place to curate learning materials and group them by category/topic/theme

“I love Alan Watts — he’s heavily featured in my learnlist on ‘Finding Purpose’”

3. A place for Teachers, Influencers & Coaches to collect, publish and share thought leadership

“My life-coach shared Mark Manson’s learnlists with me, and it changed my whole perspective on everything”

4. A place to discover content from people that inspire you

“Every time Matz puts out a new learnlist on Ruby, I know it’s gonna be good”

“I love how well the Future Builders recommendation engine finds new learnlists for me and suggests topic I hadn’t previously considered”


verb: learnlist; 3rd person present: learnlists; past tense: learnlisted; past participle: learnlisted; gerund or present participle: learnlisting

1. An easy way to create collections of multi-media learning materials & share them with others

“We’re an HR consultancy and we’ve learnlisted a whole bunch of great content on Diversity & Inclusivity, so you can get up to speed — and stay up to date — nice and easily”

2. A way to link unconnected learning materials together into a single, easy to consume unit

“MBAs are slow, boring and outdated. Instead we’ve learnlisted all the best bits from Steve Blank, Eric Reiss, Dave McClure, Seth Godin, Paul Graham, and all the other startup gurus. That way, you can get a crash course in startup theory for way less money in a fraction of the time”

What do you think? Does the word make sense, or are we crazy?!

It’s certainly been useful or us internally… We got really sick of repeating the phrase ‘playlists of learning content’, so for now, we’ll be using this new word in its place.

Will it catch on? Only time will tell. Let us know your thoughts in the comments 🙂

Jordan Poulton

Written by

Startups, Tech, Science, general geekery, occasional rants and random flights of fancy. I’m ex-@makersacademy and now Founder/CEO of :)

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