by Vivek
home science code scribbles books about

Writing My Journal of TILs

A collection of Today I Learned objects

Have you ever wondered about your daily Niagara of words? ‘Language in Thought and Action’ by S.I. Hayakawa.

From the moment you wake up in the morning till the moment you go to bed, you are exposed to constant sources of information. Whether it’s your morning newspaper, your boss, a group of friends that you hang out with, or the multitude of feed applications on your smartphone; your brain is being flooded by a Niagara of words. “[…] by 2015, the sum of media asked for and delivered to consumers on mobile devices and to their homes would take more than 15 hours a day to see or hear. That volume is equal to 6.9 million-million gigabytes of information, or a daily consumption of nine DVDs worth of data per person per day.” How Much Media? 2015, Report on American Consumers" Each of these sources has the power to shape your thoughts and inevitably your actions by carefully manipulating controlling the nature, time and placement of the content. Like it or not, every day you draw new inferences from things you hear about people you may or may not know and create subtle judgments in your mind.

On a humorous note.

And I am not even talking about the non-informative banal talks and gossips that you experience through regular office meetings or non-personal verbal gestures that consume majority of our time. In fact, most of it is inevitable.

At the end of the day, however, you might wonder if you have learned anything new at all. You may try hard to recall the neat command-line trick your friend showed you or the intellectual discussion with the programmer girl in your office, but alas, nothing comes up at all. You are too tired by now, and you defer things for later assuming that you can find out when needed. What could possibly be wrong?

Well, just that the day never comes!

It has been happening a lot with me. Tons of newsletters, reddit, research papers, general news, and other links referred by friends - there’s a ton of interesting content that I receive every day and would like to read and consume. However, I suffer the same fate as the person described above. I have had countless moments where I would search for a solution, only to realize that I have had it bookmarked in an obscure place the last time I had the same problem.

In a desperate attempt to break this loop, I have decided to start my journal of Today I Learned snippets. The idea is simple. Every day, I write a small piece of whatever new I have learned with enough description to understand and appreciate the problem even much later.

It serves two purposes:

When I sat down to write for the first time, I wondered for a long time to find out what new thing I had learned. It’s not easy and that is the trick.

So far, it has only been a few entries. It is surprisingly challenging, but I am liking it. You may wish to implement such a journal of yours as well. And remember, it need not be about code or technology. It can be anything that you find useful and wish to remember.