Why We Should Learn in Public

Kei Watanabe
Glasp
Published in
8 min readJan 13, 2022

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Photo by Keira Burton from Pexels

Introduction

Recently, I read SHAWN’s blog about “Learn in Public.” It explains why, what, and how is Learn in public, and I resonated with his idea because I’ve been thinking about the same concept for a while.

Learn in Public is a great concept. He describes it as “A habit of creating learning exhaust.” And for example, you can do it by;

  • Write blogs and tutorials, speak at meetups, ask and answer questions on Reddit or Twitter, create YouTube videos, write a newsletter, and so on.

Naturally, people share what they learn with friends or colleagues on verbal or social media, but I don’t think the concept of “Learn in Public” is not well known by those who are in NOT tech field. I searched “#LearnInPublic” on Twitter, and I saw many people tweeting with that tag, but most of them were about coding and engineering.

I think this is because an advocator of “Learn in Public” is an engineer and I see many tech people in his followers. And, “Learn in Public”, I’d think, is an analogy of “Build in Public”, which is used in the development, especially for GitHub. So I’m not wondering to know that the term is used by developers mainly.

But for people who don’t know Learn in Public, it’s an opportunity lost. So, I’ve decided to write this article to tell why non-tech people should also learn in public.

Why Learn in Public?

In one word, I think the Learn in Public is an investment in your & human society’s future. You will benefit by doing it.

Investment in Your Future

Make a Serendipity Vehicle

Nowadays, the average people can publish and distribute their idea at a reasonable cost. So, you can publish what you learn through Learn in Public and other people can access your learning and thoughts.

David Perell recommends people to write content online and says in The Ultimate Guide to Writing Online;

“When you publish ideas, you create your own “Serendipity Vehicle” — a magnet for ideas and people and opportunities from potentially every corner of the globe. If your ideas resonate with people, people will discover you and bring you unexpected opportunities. They’ll open doors you never knew existed.”

You can create the “Serendipity Vehicle” through Learn in Public. It works to connect you with like-minded people and attract intelligent audiences. As he says, you will get unexpected opportunities.

Receive More Feedback

When you start learning something, it’s better to have feedback from expertise or someone who passes more. Because it will determine what you need to learn more and which one you should focus on. If you share the process of learning online, you will receive much more feedback than sharing in print. That will accelerate your learning.

Build Your Online Profile

In an era where people can share their ideas and learn easily online, having your online profile is important. Because people who don’t know you can look into your profile, and they can see what kind of person you are and what you have learned so far. Your online profile is your online resume.

Also, the advantage of an online profile is that it’ll be your lifelong asset because you can look back at it anytime and you can share it unlimitedly. Even though you don’t actively work, the online profile spreads you to new people.

Investment in Human Society’s Future

Teach Effectively

Remember in your school days. When you ask a question and a teacher answers to you in a class, it means that he is teaching everyone in the class. We can see the same thing on social media such as Twitter, Reddit, and Quora. They can teach both you and other people effectively. And you’re helping a community by sharing the questions and answers even though you don’t notice it.

Future Ages Learn from You

Not only for teachers or answerers but also for learners, they can learn effectively. Because if you share the questions and answers, other people can learn from them. The development of study in a topic is dependent on the amount of content to some extent. The more content being created, the more learners come in and the easier it is to learn.

And your online profile will be a lighthouse for beginners. If they want to start learning what you have already learned, they can look into your profile and find out how to master it. As I said, your online profile is your lifelong asset, so you can contribute to human society in your entire life.

Standing on the Shoulder of Giants

I believe that people have been getting smarter and smarter over generations. The development of human society progresses slowly, so you might not be able to see it, but if you compare a day in 2022, it’s by far better than a day in 1522. This is because people have been passing knowledge and wisdom over generations. As of 1522, it was written on paper and only a few people could access it, but anyone can access it now.

I like the saying “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” by Isaac Newton. It explains why people in this era can relish prosperity. We are standing in the place where predecessors have built over centuries. So, as they have done, we are responsible for taking over and passing it to the next generation. I think that I’m glad if I can contribute and pile my knowledge on the historia of wisdom even though it’s a tiny piece of it.

Improvements in Current Learn in Public

I found two main improvements on Learn in Public, especially for non-tech learners, to prevail in this concept.

1. Difficulty of Creating Content Constantly

The difficulty of creating content results in failure to make a new habit. If you can’t continue doing what you started, you will drop in the loop of continuing to start something. And you will get nothing.

If you want to make a new habit, an action should be very easy to keep on. And you need an excuse for not doing it on some days. The easiness of action is the key to the new habit. You cannot make a new habit that is a big burden for you and is far away from what you’re doing right now. A friend of mine has been keeping pushing up every day for a couple of years. The trick is that his rule for push-ups is to do them one time a day. It’s not one set, it’s just one push-up. He can do it even in bed and some people ridicule him, but he’s been doing it for some years. And once the push-up one time a day roots in his habit, he has been increasing the number of times. As you see, you need to make a new habit easy to keep on.

Even if a new habit is easy, however, when you are comfortable doing it, then you’ll see your progress. Curated learning of yours will motivate you to learn further and push you to explore related fields. If you enjoy the process, congrats. You are now in the loop of learning, so you can continue learning throughout your life.

The issue is that creating content constantly probably isn’t your habit right now. You need a cushion before starting doing it. I think one of the solutions could be sharing the process of your learning passively. And in that system, it should be designed to decrease the burden and last for a long time.

One bad thing about failing to create a new habit is that when people cannot create content from what they learned, the rule of 1:9:90 won’t change forever. It says that in a social media network, 1% of people create content, 9% of people update or change content, and the rest 90% of them just consume content. It’d be mathematically correct, but for a community and human society, it’s better if more people can contribute to creating content. Because I believe everyone in the world has unique experiences and learning and it’s valuable for someone in the world. Unless it appears, it’ll be just lost and it’s also a loss for human society.

2. Difficulty of Making an Online Profile

Another improvement is that it’d be hard to create an online profile. If you post content or questions on multiple platforms such as Twitter, Reddit, and Substack, you will notice that you want an aggregated place where all of your learning histories are collected. If you have a place to look back at what you’ve learned in private, it’s Learn in Private.

In the era where attention is a most scarce resource, having your profile and home page online where all process of your learning is shown is a big advantage. Because if your learning process is public, someone who has the same interest as you or has the same issue as you will visit your page. It works like a magnet that connects people who have the same interest as you. Then, you can find your supporters, like-minded people, and advisors.

And the advantage of sharing the whole process of learning in one place is that after ages can learn from yourself effectively. If the process is either not shared or displayed here and there, they will lose the context. But if it’s shown clearly, they will learn from you and appreciate you.

Our Solution

I haven’t mentioned it yet, but we’re building a place called Glasp. Apologize if it sounds like a promotion. But it is a web application that you can collect and highlight web articles, organize them, and follow like-minded people to learn together.

We have started it based on the mission “to democratize access to other people’s learning and experiences that they have collected throughout their lives as a utilitarian legacy.” It’s at the beginning of our journey, but we believe that we can achieve the mission and contribute to human society.

We have a social DNA at the core. Everything you highlight is public and accessible to anyone on Glasp. You can learn from predecessors. And by using it, you will have an online profile that collects what you have learned and projects your identity, and be connected with people who have the same interest as you.

We make it not to disturb your reading experience and design it so that reading & learning will be your new habit. What you need to do is just select a sentence you think is important or resonates with and click a popup. You can finish doing it within two seconds.

If you already have your own way for Learn in Public, that’s great and we don’t want to push a new method on you. But if you don’t have it, you can check out and try Glasp.

Glasp — Social Web Highlighter

👉 Glasp Social Web Highlighter

We hope we can open the next door for you and you can find like-minded people to learn together. Here’s my Glasp profile if you are interested.

See you next time

Best,

Kei

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