Lesson 3: The basic principles of using the internet
This is probably the most important lesson in the whole course – along with the next exercise.
“OK, I get it. Using social media is bad. But how do I handle the abundance of information to take advantage of the knowledge shared freely online?”
Let’s take a look…
You don’t have to roam around the whole internet, to check every site, to watch every pixel of video to become smarter, more confident in your skills, and better prepared for the future. But you do have to understand a few basic principles of learning.
OK, let’s observe the following picture with the subsequent comments:
Noise: The online world is loud. The main sites that are visited by the majority of the people are adding new content every second. Along with that, ads are chasing us around trying to additionally damage our attention.
Information: To avoid falling down the rabbit hole, and stop using your phone like a primate, you need to find quality sources of information that will help you improve in a specific area of your choosing.
Curation: Once you have streams of knowledge for say, becoming a programmer, you need to sift through the sources. To remove the ones that are not relevant and organize the ones you have left – to form some sort of strategy.
Knowledge: Here comes the fun part. Read, watch, listen to all the stuff you have gathered. Extract the essentials – the most important things in order to improve in the craft.
Understand and implement: Simply reading books or consuming courses won’t be enough. You need to put in the work. To use the insights you gathered and to create something yourself.
By following this 5-step process, you will become an intelligent internet user. A person who’s taking advantage of the mountain-high racks of knowledge pulsating around the globe. Not letting memes and cat videos corrupt your grey matter.
The way we need to use the information online to learn can also be observed as an inverted pyramid:
With every level down, you strip the bullshit and you leave only the essential info that can later help you improve in the area you decided.
At the end of the funnel, thanks to the resources you have gathered along the way, a new type of content/product should be created by you. Even if you never published anything, if you never wrote a single line of code, the act of creating something new will clarify your thinking on the subject.
Instead of further traumatizing your attention span. This simple process of curation will allow you to learn and create things based on the information you have gathered online.
OK, let’s observe each of the above one by one:
The 5-step process of learning
Ever heard of the term internet noise?
You probably didn’t.
Let me explain what this stands for – all the crap that tries to steal your attention and sell you something.
The authors of the book Make Time, Jake Knapp & John Zeratsky, refer to this phenomenon as Infinity Pools. These are not public pools where children play. These are virtual places, apps and websites, where there’s an endless stream of replenishing content (think the most famous social media sites).
If you’re not curating your feed, making sure that what you watch, listen, read is of quality, you’ll get bombarded by a ton of ads, get-rich-quick schemes, and videos of pandas fighting over a slice of bamboo.
Going online without a clear agenda of what you’re going to do is like giving a credit card to a teenager. If there’s no hard limit, your card will be surely maxed out. Or in other words, if you don’t set some limits and if you don’t have a clear goal of what you’re searching for when you open the browser, the online noise will consume you.
At the moment of writing this course, according to sources, the amount of data in the world was estimated to be 44 zettabytes.
That’s a lot of information. Even if you are a robot summoned from the future, you still can’t adequately sort it all.
But you need to.
You need to cleanse all the bullshit that enters your stream and carefully selected what you place in front of your eyes.
Once you filter all the, “watch my next YouTube video and you’ll learn how to dress to become a millionaire,” you’ll be exposed to a much better portion of information.
For example, if you want to become an investor, or learn how to edit videos, there’s a ton of quality sources about this. You just need to find them.
With so many people online pretending to know all the answers, you need to be really careful when it comes down to consuming content.
After all, if you suffer from severe pain on your neck, you won’t listen to a random person on the street. You’ll visit a doctor for a consultation and read medical documentation.
What I want to say is that not everything you read online is true. Not everyone who’s sharing success stories and showing testimonials is legitimate.
Actually, the more someone is trying to convince you to buy something, the longer the sales page is on a website, the bigger the “buy now” button, the more likely that person is to be fake.
So, once you know what you want to learn, you need to carefully curate all the stuff you first found. Once that’s done, create a library of quality resources that is continuously getting updated with new valuable info.
This is a key component if you want to improve over time.
After you have yourself a streaming flow of A-grade content that is getting regularly organized, you can start consuming and extracting the knowledge.
Read the articles, watch the videos, listen to the podcasts. But remember, you don’t need to consume everything. You don’t have to listen to all the talks or watch all the series to get better at what you want to learn. You need only the most important bits of information. The main goal should be to formulate a deep understanding of the subject.
5. Understand and implement
Simply watching а video or reading a post won’t be enough.
You need to get your hands dirty. You need to re-create the content you consumed using your own words. To paraphrase. To create something yourself. To put things into practice.
This way you are forced to actively think about the material you’re consuming. And only by creating something yourself, you’re actively learning and understanding.
To put things differently, you need to actually shoot a video to become a YouTuber. You need to actually write words, most probably crappy words in the beginning, to become a good writer eventually in the future.
These are the steps to put the world wide web into good use. To actually gain from the information online and stop it from sabotaging your existence.
But something undoubtedly is missing – context.
Can you recall the data I shared in the first module about the most visited websites around the globe?
Don’t scroll up.
This is the list:
Amongst the ad-heavy sites like Facebook and Twitter, there is Wikipedia.
Probably you’re thinking, “Wikipedia is good. This site is full of knowledge and I learn stuff there. Why are you saying this site is stupid?”
It’s not. Wikipedia is one of the greatest sources of information and I admire deeply the founders and the people who regularly sweat their hands to make sure that everything is updated there.
Yes, there’s a but.
Knowledge in isolation is useless.
Reading an article about the Renaissance might help you sound a bit more sophisticated the next time you’re about to leave a comment under someone’s post. But how this piece of information is helping in your long-term game?
It’s giving you a false sense of superiority.
The goal of the information you consume should be to help you get better – at something specific. To help you advance towards a particular subject. Not to accumulate isolated facts about things you don’t really need to know – like dates and years of events that happened in the past.
So, before I start showing you how to actually gain from the free knowledge shared online, you need to do something for me. Well, essentially it’s for you but it’s also needed to proceed in the final module.
You need to first figure out what you want to learn. What you want to master. What skill you want to improve.
This is needed to add context to your life. To give yourself a direction and a plan.
✍️ Action Section:
Define what you want to learn. What you want to master.
You have to be specific, without a doubt.
Even more, don’t think of it simply as what you want to learn today. Think of it like this: “What kind of person do I want to become? What kind of field do I want to master and become known for?”
To take advantage of the endless streams of information online, think about what you want to do with your life. Ask yourself the following questions.