Sung Won Cho is the developer of dnote, an open source command line tool for taking notes (similar to org-mode or remember for the Emacs users out there). He decided for a month to write down everything he learned while programming.

It was interesting to see how reading Hacker News and other programming news sites was seen as being related to the learning process:

the amount of attention we devote to ‘learning’ is not directly proportional to the amount we actually learn. In one month, I averaged about 2 lessons per day, assuming I code for 6 full days per week. Such rate is surprisingly low, given the amount of attention I pay to news and opinions about programming.

The amount of time spent on reddit, Hacker News, and other news or opinion sites is great to discover new ideas but it isn’t very good for learning.

Another insight:

Being productive does not make us learn more. We easily confuse productivity with learning because there are some correlations between them. Some days I would felt extra productive at my work because I was getting many things done. However when I looked back at the learning heatmap later, I realized that I had not necessarily learned more.

To make productivity a learning experience, some amount of documenting would be necessary. For example, the Thread-Count document being put together by teesloane on Github is a wonderful example of documentation that leads to learning. It contains notes about threaded programming. The programming itself constitutes a bit of learning while the doc encapsulates a larger learning.

The article reminds me of the quantified self movement.


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