I have two main problems with the autodidact world. In this post, I will address these problems and present the solutions. The problems:
- Blogs are an inefficient way to structure information
- Audiobooks are boring
Blogs Are Inefficient
Unless what is being written about is chronologically relevant, there is absolutely no reason for it to be organized in a chronological way.
The main problem with blogs is that they are a poor way to organize and release information. Even organizing topics by category (and then chronologically within that category), is still not very helpful. Often this is due because of the nonlinear focus of how the writer publishes content.
How do blogs influence the way people write?
Many bloggers, like Seth Godin, choose what to write about just like most people choose what to tweet about—by whatever is currently on their mind.
While this isn’t a bad thing per se, when you only write about what’s currently on your mind, your writing will not go very deep and the topics covered will jump around. If you are easily distracted, this type of semi-random topic coverage is attractive.
If, on the other hand, you’re the type of person who wants to dive deeply into the subject, you probably favor long form, highly-structured arguments that build on top of one another to give a deep overall understanding of the subject matter.
While blogs are great at introducing people to new concepts, they are not the best way to deeply learn something. If you want to deeply learn about a subject, nothing can take the place of books.
What you’ll notice about most people who are really fucking smart, is that they read a lot of books. When Elon Musk was asked how he learned to build rockets, he said, “I read books.” Warren Buffett estimates he spends 80% of his work day reading and thinking.
The good part about blogs is that they’re free and that they can be found through search engines. But there’s no reason why books can’t also be like this.
The reason why blogging became so popular was because it was an easy way for non-technical people to make and maintain websites that revolved around publishing content. And because people publish useful solutions to people’s problems, Google sends them traffic.
My solution to this problem is to turn books into “blog” articles. After the book has gone through it’s 5+ edits and is officially released, I will publish each individual section, once a week or so, as a blog article. Eventually the whole book will be free online.
This negates the only two positives blogs have over books (free and search engine) and solves all of their problems. You can come to the website and see, all of the different thoughts and arguments in a clear and well-structured way. If you stumble onto an article through a search engine or a post on social media, there will be a logical flow into the previous and following article if you want to learn more or understand the greater context. You can preview as much of the book as you like before deciding whether or not to buy it.
The only downside to this method is that readers have to wait much longer. It can take a few hours to write a blog post, but it could take a year to write a book. You may think this is a bad thing, however, this extra time highly increases the quality of the writing.
Blogs are great for amateurs. There’s an extremely low barrier to entry. Writing a blog post is easy, writing a book is hard.Those who put the most consistent effort in and have the highest quality work are the ones who are going to succeed in the long run.
Audiobooks Are Boring
Some people may react adversely to reading that. They may say, “No they’re not! I love audiobooks!”
I appreciate what audiobooks do and how convenient they are for people who spend a lot of time commuting and multitasking. But listening to someone read a book out loud is not the most engaging form of audio content. It’s far more captivating when two people are having a discussion about something rather than listening to a monologue.
Some podcasts are highly entertaining for exactly this point. But a lot of podcasts also suffer from the same symptoms as bloggers. While podcasts can be fun to listen to, they are often not the most efficient way to learn something nor are they highly-structured between episodes. Likewise, interview podcasts are a good way to be exposed to new information (via new guests) but they’re not the best way to delve deeply into a subject.
So the solution is to combine these two forms, audiobooks and podcasts, into one.
Instead of having the author, or someone else, read verbatim their book out loud, why not have the author and a co-host make the audiobook be a discussion, using the book as the structure?
Assuming these two people do a good job, this audiobook/podcast hybrid would be both highly entertaining (what traditional audiobooks lack) and highly informative (what traditional podcasts lack).
Naturally, my intention is to do this with my books. I will release both the text and the audiobook 2.0 versions at the same time.
You can chose whichever format you prefer, or, if you want to deepen your understanding of the material, you can consume both. Since they are not carbon copies of one another, they build on each other more than they repeat the same exact thing.