In this article, I share my thoughts on exploring some resources when we need to go beyond knowing the basics of a topic.
Where do you go when you want to find knowledge? Do you ask Siri or Alexa for help? How about skimming through social media feeds? This text will suggest some strategies and tools so you can find out more about a subject when you want to go beyond scratching the surface.
The first option is to dig into articles. I'm not talking about seeing the news but reading scientific journals.
Articles are written using a clearly defined structure, with reasoning obviously backed by science, and facing constant scrutiny from the scientific community, making them an excellent choice.
The easy way to do this is to open a search engine like Google Scholar and explore scientific papers related to what you want to learn. If you wish to have an experience even closer to reality, send an email to your local university and try booking a visit to a research lab on the topic you're interested in. Show your support and how you intend to use what you'll learn to raise your chances of success in booking a visit.
The second option is to read books. I mean great, well-written books here.
Books are a perfect opportunity to go deep into a subject while giving yourself some time to digest the knowledge you're absorbing.
Getting started is painless. If you don't already have one, order yourself an e-reader - please don't read on your smartphone or tablet - and start filling your digital library with e-books on the subject you want to know more about. Of course, you can always order physical books. Most digital wellness specialists will say this should be your only option. I prefer a less radical approach and say it depends. I'm allergic to dust mite, for example, so e-books suit perfectly with me. If you want to take your reading experience to a new level and you're lucky enough to have a physical bookstore or library close to you, I recommend you visit them. Visiting a library will allow you to find rare and intriguing exemplars you wouldn't find anywhere else. And even if you don't buy anything in the bookstore, you will leave with some exciting recommendations for your wish list.
If you're after technical knowledge or business advisory, social media may be of some help.
Surprised? Yes, LinkedIn, for instance, is an effective way to attempt the first contact with professionals with the expertise you're after. Please notice that I said "attempt the first contact," though. To be successful, you'll have to ask the right person, choosing the appropriate words and timing. If you're lucky, they'll agree to talk to you, and you'll be able to make arrangements to meet the person virtually or offline. It's crucial to take your communication out of social media if you want to achieve anything useful as an outcome. Don't forget this!
Another way is to participate in seminars that will cover the topic you're interested in. If there's a Q&A session forecasted to happen after the lectures or panels, consider yourself lucky. You'll have the chance to ask the participants any questions you have in mind. At least in theory. If you want to challenge yourself, bringing the experience to a new level, you can try to meet the experts offline or travel to participate in offline events.
Another strategy is to listen to podcasts.
Many independent producers and low-profile communicators regularly create high-quality content, with interviews with experts that you won't find on mainstream media, tough talks censured on TV and exquisitely powerful storytelling. Most podcasts have at least one hour-long episodes, which provides enough time for in-depth coverage of a single topic. You can choose from a list of supported audio players or stream directly from their websites. I also encourage you to reach out to both the producers and participants if you're interested in learning more about the subject or feel you can help after you finish listening to an episode. If you are welcomed and care for flourishing the relationship, try to arrange a video call or - if your lucky to be able to do this - to meet somewhere to get some coffee.
My last strategy is to observe and experiment. We do this a lot when kids.
After we grow up, we create an ego-centric relationship with the world around us that curb our curiosity and leaves us afraid of making a fool of ourselves by failing our experiments. But, in fact, we learn more when we fail than when we succeed in life. Experimenting is a powerful learning tool that conveys authentic knowledge in the process. I'm not saying you should experiment with everything, head to a bridge and jump, or undertake whatever stupid behavior comes to your head. I'm saying that if you're wondering how would be to do something differently, you should consider the possibility - and the risks - of experimenting. It might be worth it.
So now that you were patient to reach the end of my creativity burst, here are some key points to keep in mind.
When it comes to knowledge, online is more accessible; offline is better.
The faster it is to consume the media, the worse the quality of the knowledge it conveys. Yes, I know there are a few exceptions.
The closer you get to the source of the facts, the more accurate knowledge you'll get.
Social media is not a good source of knowledge. People love talking about things they know nothing about just to stand out in the crowd and have their fifteen minutes of glory. Even these words you're reading here might be nonsense. Yeah, I'm probably trying to become famous myself.
The press is not a good source of knowledge. You can have a hint of what might be happening. Good luck separating fake news from reality. And it doesn't matter on which "political side" of the wall you stand. It's all a big filthy game now.
This is what came up to my mind about strategies and tools for finding knowledge - not wisdom; that's a whole different story. I hope my experience inspires you to create your own techniques - better than mine, share them with me in a video call, or inviting me for tea or coffee somewhere in the world.