Is there a way to learn non-linearly?

if we can only think linearly (where it’s natural to do cause-effect deduction, reductionism), then it feels learning is an even more restricted / bottlenecked activity

in this pandemic it became more apparent how bad we are at wrapping our heads around / making sense of complex adaptive systems like the world. we can’t easily deduce our ways to n-order effects.

if we think of life as basically us interacting with the world as a social & biological creature, and in the process of it, constantly engage in the act of 1) sense making and 2) making sense

aka, life experiences: world <-> brain phenomena // “brain” is technically inaccurate but “self” is too abstract and hippy-feely

then we can zoom in on three activities in “life”:

  • getting things into our heads (learning, synthesising, data <-(info|knowledge|skill)-> wisdom)
  • getting things out of our heads (self expression. related: Resistance, friction)
  • getting things into other people’s heads (communication)

// am aware how “heads” is also technically inaccurate. “being” is better but more awkward / woo woo

we can list these components and activities (nouns and verbs) involved in that process, with each of the characteristics:

  • world (nature, biology, other people): complex, non linear, interconnected
  • thinking: causal, first order, linear deductions
  • communication: linear
  • learning: iterative, multimodality, laying bricks
  • brain: complex, non linear, interconnected

that’s an hourglass-shaped path of “matter” transmission and compression then?

how to unclog this bottleneck? widen that hourglass’ waist? increase the bandwidth? reduce friction?

different people different style different workflow

tech? computer assisted / leveraged / aided learning?

thought tech, “digital gardens”, “second brains”, knowledge management suits


and then, would these be the case?

  • sense making: tool-aided linear thinking
  • making sense: tool-aided communication

…the scarce resource is not information; it is processing capacity to attend to information. Attention is the chief bottleneck in organizational activity.

— Herbert Simon


  • phrase things more simply (dejargonize if any)
  • improve readability. capital letters?
  • make it less stream of consciousness wordvomit
  • add illustration of the hourglass (transmission and compression)
  • better illustrate the different components. flowchart and matrix?
  • add concrete examples (stories?) of linearity and complexity. put more flesh to the bones

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