Friday, February 18, 2005

Unlearning, wtf?

There was a meme in the blog community about unlearning: unlearning the past in order to replace it with something new as the lifetime of what you know gets shorter and shorter all the time.

Hugh Gapingvoid mentions that he had to unlearn his career in advertising to come up with something as genious as
Hughtrain. Indeed, it's more than genious, go read it.

I think unlearning is a word from the old world where we used to think learning as acquisition of knowledge. I guess unlearning as a word is reversing that practice and putting something else back in. Yet I argue, you just can't unlearn, as the way how you have constructed new knowledge in the past has already shaped your point of view.

You have to change the way you view the world. My perception is that Hugh just got through the issues he just first mimiced to reveal a completely new level of understanding. The next stack in his understanding is partly based on the past learning experiences but the mindset is very much different, almost anarchic. I think this is the same for many who know their topic very well.

My friend Juhani Anttila has done a lifetime career in understanding Quality. My discussions with him have revealed (to me, at least) that quality is not in the specifications of how to manufacture quality products, services and goods. Quality is a mindset. He knows both sides of the coin better than anyone. He has been part of writing the ISO-9000 specifications and seeing people implement them.

Conceptual change is a better word to describe this. How the concepts through which you perceive the world change at an instant. It's like boiling water. Boiling doesn't happen gradually, the properties of the water change at once when the water reaches 100 degrees. We have to reach for the next conceptual boiling point in our understanding.

Oh yeah. My last major boiling point (atleast as much as I have realized) passed when I understood:

How on earth could a personal journal/weblog/website be social?

Suddenly you see the properties of the experience everywhere. I can't tell you how.


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