kconner.com

I don’t know why I was complaining the other day about how Docker is unintuitive. Maybe it is, but I just needed to read 100% of the documentation and try out half the sample code, and now it fits in my head like it ought to.

I’m only half kidding. You don’t get to learn everything top-down. Like when you begin Swift with print("hello world"), you benefit from progressive disclosure in the language and its documentation. After a short tutorial you can do useful things, and then you come back for more information when you need to know the next thing. Stack Overflow not only gets you unstuck, it improves your intuition.

Some things you have to learn bottom-up, like the shell. man cat, man ps, man 3 intro, apropos regex, ad infinitum. Only when you’ve been exposed to all these details do their combinations begin to make sense, and nobody is going to tell you which information you’re missing. You have to just be willing to absorb every tiny thing and then synthesize the intuition yourself. In theory, if you learned it all, you could solve every problem. So in practice, you read everything available and look up anything you don’t recognize. That learning curve can be a lot when you’re just stuck on one thing, but it’s a fact of life.

Everything you can learn is somewhere on this spectrum. If you’re stuck, you may need to back up and adapt your learning style.

16 Sep 2019