R is for Reading and Research

Even though as recently as the 1800s reading was something common folk did not have the privilege of learning today’s world demands it for survival. If you can’t read, you die, sometimes literally. Books have been the most comprehensive source of knowledge since before the printing press was invented and continue to be so. Learning from a book still outweighs the alternatives for comprehensive knowledge.

Advantages Disadvantages
Comprehensively address a topic. Might miss important things giving wrong impression that everything covered.
Single writer’s voice and style. Only a single voice, might lack concensus.
Well organized. Humans don’t think linearly.
Higher quality due to editing and publishing process. Difficult to keep up to date and publish.
Portable despite sometimes still being printed on paper. Difficult to search quickly.

Books fill gaps. You might enjoy learning through videos, projects, and tutorials but until you work through something comprehensively you’ll have gaps. For example, you might have installed and played around with eight different Linux distributions but if you still don’t know how to redirect standard output to a file you have a gap.

Brains love stories. The mnemonics we read or create help us remember things. Competitive memorizers have been imagining creative stories that go with complicated number sequences and names for years. Something about narratives full of imagery, sound, and smell causing things to remain in our minds longer.

Discussion Questions