Become Wise in Public
The fastest way to learn is to learn in public. That is what a developer who goes by swyx argues in a short piece, "Learn in Public,” which inspired the learn in public movement. His advice is simple:
Make the thing you wish you could have found when learning.
Refrain from concerning yourself with engagement metrics.
Try your best to be correct but do not worry about being wrong.
Be okay at sucking because you do.
Seek feedback from others.
His advice is brilliant on many levels:
One of the best ways to learn is to teach.
Even if you are creating a simple blog post on something simple like budgeting, creating something will bring you a sense of aliveness.
You will “find the others,” who are A) at your learning edge and B) vibe with you.
I often advise my inquiry partners looking to put themselves on the internet that they only have to be “a few chapters ahead” of others in a topic to start. People will appreciate and have an attraction to the authenticity of someone learning. Experts can be unrelatable and intimidating and bring the baggage of status games they play from their profession.
Once you gain a specific degree of knowledge and skill, people will seek your advice, and if you so choose, you can move into the market economy with a book, course, or coaching practice. This situation is omni-win. You learn, help others learn, and come alive through creating. You also can foster a community and organically have your livelihood supported partly or wholly without using tacky marketing tactics.
Another reason swyx’s advice is brilliant is that public learners are directly tapped into what Piotr Woźniak calls the “learn drive,” which he contrasts to the “school drive.” The former is our innate and neverending desire to learn. The latter is the system of rewards and penalties around learning, suppressing the learn drive, resulting in “learned helplessness” in many.
The learn in public movement emancipates the learn drive. It sidesteps “hidden curriculums” and any attempt to instrumentalize this drive. Using the learn drive for reasons other than intrinsic ones will stifle it. I feel grateful for this movement and how so many people are putting themselves at their learning edge, moved by their learn drive. I have gained so much from those who learn in public.
The scene The Stoa belongs to was once called the “sensemaking web,” then the “liminal web,” and now the term “wisdom web” is being used. I hypothesize that the wisdom web will lead to a “wisdom commons,” where wisdom is demystified and made common. Considering my gratitude for the learn in public movement and my interest in helping midwife a wisdom commons, I wonder if a “become wise in public” movement will emerge.
How can wisdom become common? Knowing what wisdom is helps. I like Igor Grossman's definition: the meta-value that adjudicates between all other values. There are many different definitions, coming from many disciplines and traditions. How does one become wise? Here are some answers…
Being mindful (or senseful) of your “ecology of practices,”
These are all excellent answers with no resounding consensus. After hosting over a thousand events at The Stoa, with some of the most intelligent people, many of whom have developed impressive capacities, I am left with the following conclusion: wisdom is up for grabs. It is waiting for discovery, perhaps by you.
With learning in public, you do not need much to start - a medium, a topic, the learn drive, and most importantly, an ethos of “I do not know.” You also need these four things to become wise in public. The difference is that the “I do not know” is about living life. The other difference is that nobody really knows how you should be living your life.
I have opened more slots in my philosophy practice for new inquiry partners. I start people in the gift economy to see if we mutually vibe. If we sense we could be ongoing inquiry partners, we can decide whether to have an ongoing relationship in the gift economy or market economy. To see if I have any openings, reply to this letter or email me at thestoa at protonmail dot com.
If you would like to get a visceral sense of the vibe of my practice, along with the movements that commonly occur, listen to this playlist.
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