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I was talking to a friend the other day and came up with a term to sorta quantify what I consider perhaps the most important revolution of my lifetime: TTK or Time To Knowledge.

The example I always use, the occasion when it first occurred to me, was a couple years ago when, for some reason, I decided I wanted to make a foam for a cocktail. Within 5 minutes, I had found a video on Youtube illustrating how, not to mention a dozen other sites documenting various techniques.

I imagined being back in the 1980s or 90s and confronting the same wild impulse. How would I have figured this out? Asked a couple people perhaps. Contemplate a trip to my local library. Maybe make a mental note to chat with a bartender next time I found myself at a cocktail bar. Probably just give up on the idea and go back to watching the A-Team.

This is a rather trivial example. But then consider the ease and dramatically lowered TTK where programming knowledge (via StackOverflow) or general knowledge (Wikipedia) is concerned. The internet itself cut the lag. But it was first Google, then Wikipedia, that turned TT#$&!%&@ (Time To me cursing that I have access to all this potentially useful information that I can't quite seem to reach) to TTK, Time To (real meaningful well-organized) Knowledge.




All magic comes at a price.

You could have learnt other tricks of the trade, could have made new friends talking to that human bartender.

Talking to someone who is a master at something is far more valuable than asking the internet specific questions - how do you know what questions to ask...


The internet's supply of masters is much larger and more accessible. Is there a reason to think the video or other sources he found are from someone inferior in expertise to a local? Does that reason apply even for people who live outside major urban centers?

Also, that line of thinking is letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. Remember the most likely outcome before was recognizing the cost of acquiring the knowledge exceeded the benefit of having it; there would have been no learning at all.


The Internet's supply of poseurs is far greater still.

I think Stack Overflow is the canonical example. It feels like I deal daily with people who paste something from Stack Overflow instead of reading up on a library or API. It is made worse by all those to game their score system by being very quick to paste in a semi-related "answer".


The Internet's supply of poseurs is far greater still - Holden Caulfield


Ouch. Nailed it. :D

(unless xorcist is freakin' Holden himself!)


At least on the internet you can tell who's lying and who isn't. SO lets you vote. If a bartender blatantly lies to you, you don't find out until days and there is no accountability.


Most online videos are made by people good at making videos. There not the same people that are good at making drinks or whatever.


Most people good at making videos have better things to make videos on than random niche hobbies and crafts. If you step out of the popculture, you'll see a lot of videos made by those who do the work.


I'm subscribed to YouTube channels devoted to crafts such as woodworking, cooking, metalworking, development, sewing, drink mixing, and others, and very few of them use professional equipment or editing software. Some of the most entertaining ones do, of course, but mostly because they started small and were able to grow their audience enough to turn it into a career, over the course of which they picked up the skills to improve the quality of the videos.

Those other skills form the foundation of successful online video channels, with the video skills following suit.


Yea, there are plenty of people worth following out there. But, a few minutes of random searching is probably not going to show you one of the gems. Unless, I am just bad at finding videos.


Consider then finding an on-line community of enthusiasts first. Like, in case of woodworking, /r/woodworking and some of the other subreddits listed in the sidebar there. Spend few minutes there, and you'll know where to find the best 5% of woodworking sources available to mankind.

Let me emphasize it - thanks to the Internet, you have access to the best knowledge and experience entire humanity has produced. All it takes is some experience with using the Internet and spending little time on filtering links.


I think your vastly overstating what videos people put online.

I think woodworking is hard to qualify. So, let's simplify.

1) A master craftsman video demonstrating how to make an Italian style flat bread oven from someone that spent ~15+ years learning and building them.

2) One of those small but highly accurate mechanical clocks that's accurate enough for navigation at sea.

3) A European ed: (English) style saddle made by a craftsman, as in someone that made and sold 100 others before it.

I am sure there are at least a few hundred people with those skills world wide, but actually finding a detailed video made by one of them online seems much harder. As in something that's good enough to learn from not just advertising or a 'how it's made' video showing some highlights.

It's 3:30 EST on Friday. Let's give it 24 hours. ;)


Moving the goalposts to the furthest conceivable distance isn't going to prove anything to anybody. Nobody claimed you could completely master a trade skill just from watching YouTube videos.


The parent post (TeMPOraL) said:

have access to the best knowledge and experience entire humanity has produced

Sure, you can find plenty of videos on how make a hard boiled egg, apply tile, or do a card trick... But, that statement seems way over the top.

PS: Though, this is one case where I would haply be proved wrong.


Versus learning from the first person you come across in real life? Or not at all because it's all too hard compared with searching the net?


IMO, there is a fair amount of. "Those who can do. Those who can't teach."

Sure, you can find some videos of people making a wooden clock online. It's much harder to find master craftsman making a watch. A few PHD students putting together an electric car vs. someone at GM actually designing a car. Home cook vs. Five Star Chef.

Granted, generally an amateur is fine. But, don't be surprised if there making several mistakes without noticing.


> IMO, there is a fair amount of. "Those who can do. Those who can't teach."

That applies to occupations, not to hobbies. I.e. those who can't find a proper job using their skill go on to teach that skill.

It does not however apply to the most valuable content - one made not for money, but out of love for the subject. A lot of masters in all occupations simply like to share. Our industry is probably the best example - it's almost entirely built upon masters who gave away their knowledge. But it happens in other industries too.


and these master would teach random people from the street about their craft?

in sincerely doubt that...


Clickspring. /r/artisanvideos


This is a valuable point. I no longer just ask questions of people: I try to be respectful of their time by trying hard myself to figure out the answer first.

The upside is that I learn a bunch of things. The downside is that I rarely have a question for anyone anymore. I'm either too lazy to dig into the question online to be sure that the question is worth asking, or I figure out the answer on my own.

Talking to someone who is a master at something is much more valuable than the internet... but the definition of a "stupid question" is becoming smarter.


Sure, but you severely limit your potential knowledge if you have to hunt down an expert in person to learn something (especially if you couldn't use the internet to find the expert!).

If you find yourself enthralled in a subject after learning about it on Wikipedia/YouTube you can still find an expert and learn even more. Being seconds away from being able to learn about anything in the world is extremely powerful.


You can still go meet that bartender, but now when you ask her about the technique you can explain what you've already tried, and will almost certainly get better knowledge from her.


This is really interesting, until you realize that 99% of the knowledge you acquire in this way is useless. In the 80s, if you didn't know how to do the foam you would just do without it, and nothing in the world would change because of that. Now, this would be certainly different if you were searching for a way to solve a hard engineering problem, but hard engineering problems cannot be learned with a 5 min youtube video anyway.


It's pretty cynical to call that knowledge useless. It's learning to do a thing you want to know how to do. That has use to you and often those around you. As for hard engineering problems, just because they're more complex doesn't make the knowledge less available. There's a massive amount of engineering knowledge free online, it only takes the initiative to go out and use it to learn it. The curriculum of many entire university degrees is now available for free online in a way its never been before.


I hear your skepticism and acknowledge it. But I think you're being a little too flip with your 99% figure as well as your definition of useless.

The point is not to take a hard engineering problem and turn it into a 5 minute solution. You're right. Not all problems can be reduced to short Youtube videos (although it is amazing how many can).

The point is to take what may have been considered a hard, even impossible, engineering problem and get it in the hands or head of someone who might someday come up with a new or better solution. Even if the ultimate solution takes years or decades, it's still a radical reduction in TTK.


Yes, finding something that teaches you how to do something you want to do is useless. Unless it's something YOU want to do, of course! Then it's fantastic.


Then replace a video with books. If I want to learn something hard, I can Google for the resources on the topic, quickly get the names of books considered the best resources humanity has on that subject, and then proceed to either Amazon or my favourite pirate source. All I can do in 10 minutes to half an hour, and then I can start learning. Contrast with the 80s, where you'd have to go to your local library, which may or may not have any book on the subject, and if it has, it's not necessarily the best.




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