Self-Education: Teach Yourself Anything with the Sandbox Method - Nat Eliason

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Sep 15, 2023

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Self-Education: Teach Yourself Anything with the Sandbox Method - Nat Eliason

"The Hive is the New Network"

It is better to know how to learn than to know. This quote by Dr. Seuss perfectly encapsulates the idea behind the sandbox method, a process for self-education based on scientific research on how we learn and process information.

To begin the self-education process, it is essential to build your sandbox. This means creating an environment where you can practice and learn the skill you want to acquire. It should be low cost or free, allowing you to start without delay. Putting your work out there, even as a novice, is important as it helps you get comfortable with sharing your creative projects before they're perfect or before you become an expert.

Once your sandbox is built, it's time to do some research. Look for information that can expand the borders of your sandbox, allowing you to practice and apply the skill more extensively. Books are a great resource to start with as they are generally more vetted and edited than online sources. Taking notes as you research is also crucial as it helps you remember and build a personal wiki of knowledge.

Implementing and practicing what you've learned is the next step. However, it is crucial to avoid naive practice, where you trick yourself into thinking you're learning when you're not challenging yourself. Assess your limits honestly to determine where you need improvement and focus your practice on those areas.

Getting feedback is essential to continue the self-education loop. By seeking feedback from others, you can identify areas of improvement and make necessary adjustments. Troubleshooting is a vital part of the process, as it helps you overcome obstacles and refine your skills further.

Now, let's shift our focus to the concept of the hive as the new network. On Instagram, 50% of posts are generated by less than 3% of accounts. This statistic demonstrates the importance of building a hive rather than just a network. A hive is an evolved network that is bigger than the sum of its parts. It increases the frequency of interactions between nodes and decreases friction, allowing for stronger ties and collective action within the hive.

Our behavior and interactions are becoming more hive-like, resembling the fluidity and efficiency of ant clusters. Tools like Google Apps for Work, Slack, and Github increase interaction frequency within organizations, aligning everyone around shared goals. This transformation from solid to fluid allows businesses to adapt to the needs of the hive and work more efficiently.

The decision-making process within a hive is similar to that of a swarm of bees. It's not centralized but rather driven by low-level communication among scout bees. This reduces friction and enables rapid and collective decision-making. The hive evaluates various inputs quickly and intelligently, making decisions that benefit the entire collective.

WeChat is a prime example of how a product can evolve to serve the hive. By reducing friction and providing infrastructure for users, WeChat turned into a utility that benefits the whole hive. The focus shifted from increasing connections to delivering a better, more immediate experience for users.

Companies like Facebook and Snap Inc. are converging on the idea of creating real, shared experiences that bring people together. This shift towards a hive mindset is evident in their strategies of building a family of brands rather than alienating people. The hive allows us to collectively solve complex problems, such as the development of autonomous cars. By reducing the number of cars on the road and improving predictability, autonomous cars can have a significant impact on safety and insurance costs.

In conclusion, the sandbox method of self-education and the concept of the hive as the new network have common points. Both emphasize the importance of continuous learning, pushing oneself to improve, and seeking feedback. To apply these concepts, here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Build your sandbox: Create an environment where you can practice and learn without delay. Put your work out there, even if you're a novice, to get comfortable with sharing your projects.
  • 2. Research and take notes: Expand the borders of your sandbox by seeking information from vetted sources like books. Take notes to build a personal wiki of knowledge.
  • 3. Implement, practice, and seek feedback: Challenge yourself during practice to ensure you're truly learning. Seek feedback from others to identify areas of improvement and troubleshoot any obstacles you encounter.

By incorporating these actions into your self-education journey and embracing the hive mindset, you can unlock your full potential and achieve remarkable growth and success.

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