In many fields, for many purposes, a little learning suffices.

It is sometimes surprising how little.

Written between 1946 and 1975, Copleston's History of Philosophy with its eleven volumes remains a reference in its field. Today, it is somewhat amusing that this 5,000+ pages opus, written over a period three decades, was described by the author as an introductory work.

In his 2022 book How the World Really Works, Vaclav Smil describes how we continually interact with “black boxes” to use technologies with little understanding how they actually work.

A Dilbert cartoon from the 90s shows a character spending an afternoon acquiring a new skill while his colleagues participate in a pointless meeting.

One doesn't become an expert in an afternoon but looking a little bit under the hood of the systems that serve us daily can only improve their usefulness and sustainability. With systems becoming increasingly complex, such study is no longer a luxury.

Once one starts to look around, learning opportunities abound. For example:

The list could be easily extended with topics to improve energy, financial or IT literacy.

  1. Feb 5, 2018: originally posted on FB
  2. Feb 5, 2021: revisited as memory
  3. Nov 27, 2022: added and expanded on RS

#learning #complexity