This post appeared in issue #36 of my newsletter, Res Extensa, where I write about the intersection of product design, bottoms-up systems, innovation, and what we can learn from the history of technology. I’d love it if you subscribed.
A new piece from Andy Matuschak and Michael Nielsen (beautifully illustrated by Maggie Appleton). Can we make reading a more engaging and interactive learning experience? This builds on previous ideas from the authors on spaced repetition.
Since the beginning of 2019 I’ve been tracking ongoing goals using a Google Sheet I made, where I can enter each activity day by day and generate a rollup showing how I’m tracking on each goal throughout the course of the year.
Andy Matuschak put it well in this post where he talked about his system for habit-building. A calendar week isn’t great for tracking overall progress because it’s artificially-constrained.
Let’s take my current goal of running 650 miles this year. That averages to doing 12.47 miles per week to hit the number. With something like running,...
Tom MacWright on chess. Reduce distraction, increase concentration
Once you have concentration, you realize that there’s another layer: rigor. It’s checking the timer, checking for threats, checking for any of a litany of potential mistakes you might be about to make, a smorgasbord of straightforward opportunities you might miss. Simple rules are easy to forget when you’re feeling the rush of an advantage. But they never become less important.
Might start giving chess a try just to see how I do. Haven’t played in years, but I’m curious.
A couple of interesting thoughts in habit-forming, from Andy Matuschak. I like the idea of increasing the amount of an activity in smooth increments rather than whole days:
When it’s time to ratchet up the target, adding one day per week to a habit can feel like a huge change! I find that fine-grained values work better when possible. For my piano practice, I don’t use “numbers of days practiced per week”: I use “number of minutes practiced per week.” I barely notice adding ten minutes per week to the goal, so I can smoothly ratchet up my target.
Khan Academy’s Andy Matuschak on tasks that require “depth of knowledge” versus those that have higher “transfer demand.” Both can be considered “difficult” in a sense, but teaching techniques to build knowledge need different approaches:
One big implication of mastery learning is that students should have as much opportunity to practice a skill as they’d like. Unlike a class that moves at a fixed pace, a struggling student should always be able to revisit prerequisites, read an alternative explanation, and try some new challenges. These systems...