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May 23, 2006

A Concise Description of Ah-Hah Moments

I finished Battelle's book The Search, way back in January when I first came to D.C. but still never posted my comments. With little paper flags stuck in the sections that I wanted to comment on, those flags have been like middle fingers flicking me off every time I sit at my desk. The book lays there, naked without its jacket, and I keep telling myself that I need to post the three flagged sections (like the hundreds of things that I've wanted to but never posted)

Rather than hash out either my comment on the paid content-firewall issue (which I briefly covered here reviewing that Economist podcast with Dave Sifry of Technorati) or my comments on the always-on Google power of the future, here's the critical quote from this great book:

But what may well become possible in the world of perfect search is the ability to take the clickstream of that journey and turn it into an object- a narrative thread of sorts, something I can hold and keep and refer to, a prop to aid in the telling and retelling of how I came to my answer. Tracks in the dust, so to speak, that others can follow, or question to discover how I came to my conclusions. And these tracks are not just potential narratives for others to read; they can also be objects that can be spidered y a search engine, providing them with an entirely new order of intelligence about how people learn. In the aggregate, these clickstreams can provide a level...

As Bush outlined, the memex gains its potency by capturing the traces of a researcher's discovery through a corpus of knowledge, then storing those traces of intelligence so the next can learn from and build upon them.

Clickstreams are the seeds that will grow into our culture's own memex- a new ecology of potential knowledge- and search will be the spade that turns the Internet's soil." (pg. 257-258)

I've mentioned these ah-hah moments a couple of times before, but it the section quoted above that that cemented this idea concisely and eloquently. It captured an idea, sensation, experience that I've had many times since first surfing the next back in '96 or '97.

I remember and believe in these ah-hah moments they're the foundation of learning and acquiring new knowledge. And that's not me talking but it's from a academic video on the study of learning that my Dad bought my brother and I when we were in high school. Maybe he thought we weren't serious enough with our studies or maybe he just thought we'd enjoy it ( we didn't) but I do remember this one thing from the video.

We really learn and remember new information (transforming it into knowledge during this process) when we can combine old knowledge with new knowledge (which I call ah-hah moments). Building upon the past and creating new insights, that is the essence of learning. Sounds a little like Lessig or Newton's " standing on the shoulders of giants" quote doesn't it?

Currently Playing: two new albums-
1) Red Hot Chili Peppers- favorites are "Charlie," "2st Century," and "Snow (Hey Oh)"

2) Snow Patrol- favorites are "Open Your Eyes," "You Be Happy," "Set The Fire to the Third Bar," "Shut Your Eyes"

A fellow Last.fm user echoing similar sentiments about the new RHCP and Snow Patrol albums (can't speak to the new Goo Goo Dolls).        

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