An idea: Sticking Point Learning

bycousin_it9y8th Sep 20098 comments


When trying to learn technical topics from online expositions, I imagine that most people hit snags at some moment - passages that they can't seem to grasp right away and that impede further progress. Moreover, I imagine that different people often get stuck in the same places, and that a few fortunate words of explanation can often help overcome the hump. (For example, "integral is the area under the curve" or "entropy is the expected number of bits".) And finally, perhaps unintuitively, I also imagine that someone who just overcame a sticking point is more likely to say the right magic words about it than someone who has understood the topic for years.

Hence my suggestion: let's try to identify and resolve such sticking points together, maybe as part of our Simple Math of Everything. This idea might be more appropriate for Hacker News, but I'm submitting it here because it sounds like a not-for-profit rather than a business, and seems nicely aligned with the goals of our community.

The required software certainly exists: our wiki would do fine. One of us posts a copy of a technical text. Others try to parse it, hit the difficult points, resolve them by intellectual force and insert (as a mid-article comment) the magic words or hyperlinks that helped them in that particular case. I really wonder what the result would look like; hopefully, something comfortably readable by people with modest math-reading skillz.

Any number of technical topics suggest themselves immediately - now what would you like to see?