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What are various pros and cons of 2 different approaches to learning in which: (

1). You seek Knowledge (e.g. Traditional Academics) ; (2). Knowledge seeks you (
e.g. Recommendation based channels like Quora, StumbleUpon)?
Is their a better approach of the two? Are there some metrics to measure their i
Timothy Kenny
A person with a knowledge base that is both wide and deep in a specific area is
known to have a "T" shaped knowledge base.
These are the major points of difference, listed in order of importance:
Why is Seeking Better?
1. Seeking Knowledge is Active, Getting Recommendations is Passive
The more active and driven you are in your learning, the more you will remember.
Seeking requires effort, and the more effort you put into trying to learn somet
hing the more you will learn and remember.
2. Seeking Knowledge Builds Focus, Getting Recommendations Builds ADHD
Spending time seeking knowledge builds focus because you have to cut out distrac
tions. The ability to focus on one thing for a long period of time is a skill th
at we are collectively losing as a culture. Success in any project requires focu
s and perseverance, and to get into the flow (the ultimate learning state) requi
res that you don't get distracted.
A lot of information that is most popular tends to be packaged like fast food an
d candy; it tastes good (arguably) but it doesn't keep you full and it isn't nut
3. Going Deep by Seeking Helps You Find the Story Behind Successful People and B
A lot of the most important ideas and relationships exist behind the scenes. In
the media world, the experts reach a small audience (including people with large
blog/radio/TV/article followings) and then those messages get fed to the masses
by less qualified people who are better at marketing.
One of the best ways to learn is to find the thought leaders. Behinds any succes
sful person who has taught you something is someone who is smarter and less well
known. You can think of it as a family tree: the farther away from the public y
ou go, the more the person will be focused on innovation as opposed to marketing
. You can usually learn more from the mentors of your teacher than your teacher
himself. The best way to find their mentors is to read the acknowledgments secti
on of their books and to read up on their history.
Why is Getting Recommendations Better?
1. Creativity Comes From Connecting Disparate Ideas
Getting some random, high quality inputs that are targeted to your interest can
massively boost your creativity. Rob May, Cofounder of Backupify, recommends rea
ding one magazine a month that you would normally never read.
Watch this awesome documentary on creativity, "Everything is a Remix"
Everything is a Remix Part 1
2. Innovation Comes From Transferring Ideas From One Industry to Another

Dan Kennedy, a master of business thinking and a teacher/mentor to almost all of

the well known business teachers today, teaches that to innovate in your indust
ry you must go FAR outside your industry to find new ideas.
For example, there are clothing companies like Karmaloop that send out monthly b
oxes of merchandise to paying subscribers for 50-100/month. This subscription id
ea originally came from book clubs in the 1800s that sold a book a month. The id
ea was then transplanted to tape and CD memberships and now Netflix. There are e
ven companies that sell underwear and toiletries to men so they don't forget to
buy more deodorant. Amazon (company) allows people to buy a subscription for a 2
4 pack of Red Bull delivered automatically on a monthly basis and charged to the
ir credit card.
3. Getting Recommendations Helps You Build Understanding Through Metaphor
The ability to understand and learn through metaphor is one of the patterns of g
eniuses. To master metaphor you must master pattern recognition, which is one of
the main factors in intelligence/IQ. To see patterns in the real world outside
of your specific field of interest requires enough exposure. Getting recommendat
ions that provide analysis (Quora) gives you experiences and information that al
lows you to see patterns that you would never recognize otherwise.
How to Balance Depth and Breadth
1. Spend 80% of your time on Depth, 20% of your time on Breadth
You need depth to be successful in almost all fields. The value of breadth usual
ly comes later on when you can use it to amplify the value of the depth you have
developed. Think of breadth as a force multiplier.
Paper on Depth > Breadth
2. Minimize task switching and block out times for non-focused learning
CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos is known for blocking out 2 entire days per week to hav
e no goals and just follow his curiosity and let ideas come to him. It is no coi
ncidence that Bezos is one of the few entrepreneurs who has been hugely successf
ul without the duo of "ideasman/biz guy" and "technical cofounder."
3. Keep a Spark File
A Spark File is a place to keep all your have baked ideas. Many times ideas take
a while to congeal and combine with other half baked ideas before you have some
thing that is really new and unique. Keeping a list of these ideas lets you revi
ew them every week or once a month so that you can allow them time to develop an
d mingle without forgetting them.