I ain't much on that book learnin'
March 30, 2008 11:07 AM   Subscribe

I am pretty terrible when it comes to picking up technology books with the desire to learn about something. I always lose steam at some point. I am asking for tips/tricks/disciplines to get better, especially if you've noticed a difficulty doing this and turned yourself around. Is it possible that I am simply the type who needs to go to a class or learn through on the job training? Or is there a way to get better?
posted by tcv to Technology (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Learn some discipline and stop "losing steam." You have to stick with it, remember how dumb homework seemed at the time? You have to do it even when you don't want to, and while I'm not talking self-torture, you do have to figure out a way to stick with it because if you can't maintain an interest on your own, you're not going to retain much from a class either. As for on the job training, you could sit around for ages waiting for that to come up so consider that to be the slow-boat method. Figure out why you're losing steam.

Me, I figured out that I irrationally consider myself to be smart enough to pick anything up, and any level of frustration turns me off. If every avenue to knowledge is blocked by frustration or difficultly, then I'll just drop the entire subject rather than persevering. Pretty smart, huh? Not the path to success, let me tell you.

There is no shortcut to knowledge.
posted by rhizome at 11:15 AM on March 30, 2008

Find a project! Just reading up on something to know about it is way less interesting than reading up on it trying to figure out how to do a specific task
posted by aubilenon at 11:19 AM on March 30, 2008

I struggle constantly with the same problem. I have a habit of buying technology books on topics i'm really interested in and I get through (maybe) chapter 1 or 2, and then never pick it up again.

The solution for me was when I figured out that the best way I learn is from multiple sources/inputs at the same time. Here is what I mean by that:

1.) Try learning something just from a book by itself = total fail. Why?.. because my brain isnt "engaged". Most technology books are dry and boring and repetitive and it lulls my brain right to sleep. (seriously, most technology books are total suck)

2.) Try learning something by getting: a little from a book, a little from the internet, a little from DOING with my hands, a little from talking to others,etc really helps me be more successful. It activates a variety of areas of my brain and keeps me interested.

One good example of this is that lately I've been making great progress learning Processing. Whats great about Processing, you ask? The developers built the program with the goal of writing a language that appeals to both right-brain and left-brain thinkers. If you pickup the book you'll see that the lessons and layout and multi-faceted/multi-layered conceptual (artistic?) approach to coding, and much more "accessible".

Its the first technology book I've ever read where I sat back in awe.. thinking to myself: "OMG, someone FINALLY gets it." (that there are different types of learners in the world)
posted by jmnugent at 12:10 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

The problem is, you approach it on sunday afternoon, about 3pm...cause that's when you have some free time, and you just try to 'gut' through it.

And about 50-100 pages, in, after maintaining your laser like, self propelled focus, you realized you're bored to crap. You quit and secretly resent the materials...put it off...and three weeks later are back at square one.

So, here's a secret that seems to work:

One chapter every 48 hours. No more. You can maybe do a chapter every 24. But the idea is to commit to the time involved, in small increments, and quit while you're still enjoying it. But carve out that time before you open the book...and realize one of those books should take you a month or so to go through.
posted by filmgeek at 12:46 PM on March 30, 2008 [3 favorites]

I second what aubilenon says: find a way to work the technologies you want to learn about into a project that combines the learning with something that you are passionate about. If you're into gaming (for example), why not come up with a smallish project that will help the technology become more of a means to an end? Works for me every time - so long as the project isn't so big that it becomes a chore.
posted by dbateman at 3:38 PM on March 30, 2008

If you are learning about software you might want to check out Lynda.com. I've been using the video tutorials featured there for about a year now and I've found them significantly more engaging than books. The teachers they choose are pretty quality and go out of their way to mix things up. I'm not sure if they will help you with discipline but maybe they might work better for you than books.
posted by sdsparks at 4:52 PM on March 30, 2008

My coworker decided he doesn't read enough and whenever he tries he peters out just like you - so he started a reading group with the other folks in our group and we keep each other motivated by assigning ourselves reading and discussing it. I'm sure you'll find the same in many workplaces.
posted by crinklebat at 7:57 PM on March 30, 2008

Pair up with someone who wants to learn the same thing, or take a class. Either is a good way to get going and keep going.
posted by zippy at 10:23 AM on March 31, 2008

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