Climbing the Exponential Learning Curve
In 2009 Ray Kurzweil gave a TED talk addressing issues associated with the exponential growth of technology. He said that human beings are linear thinkers, not exponential thinkers using the Human Genome project as an example. Half way through the projected life of the project they were only 1% finished, a fact that was making many people nervous. Ray pointed out that they were actually on schedule because, aided by exponential increases in supporting technology, the project was proceeding exponentially not linearly. Seven more yearly doublings from 1% is 100% and the project was finished on time.
Many things that we learn proceed in a fairly linear fashion. Newfound abilities increase proportionately to the amount of time we spend learning and practicing. I believe that this changes when learning a composite skill, one made up of multiple, individual disciplines. It is much like trying to solve an equation with multiple variables, increasing the number of variables increases the difficulty disproportionately. You are no longer on a nice, linear learning curve but instead have wandered onto the logarithmic learning curve.
My RDS learning experience has followed this path. I was confronting multiple new, difficult, inextricably intertwined components that I had to learn and integrate. I spent many hours reading, studying and experimenting in the beginning with very little actual code to show for it. But then, something happened. I hit an inflection point on the curve that represented a critical mass of accumulated knowledge. Suddenly, in a period of four hours, critical aspects of message flow, asynchronous programming and the peculiarities of VPL came together in a programmatic aha moment and I could feel the momentum of the project change. The great thing about this is the fact that now almost everything I try either works or offers me insight into how other elements work. Besides the productivity increase this was a tremendous moral booster and confidence builder.
I’m an immersive learner and these moments of insight are exactly why I put in the time and hard work. If you are working through RDS and still feeling overwhelmed and a little confused, just stick with it. I believe the effort is well worth it and, like they did for me, things will click for you.