Manoel's Dev Blog

Learn in public & save the civilization

July 16, 2019

One of the reasons to create this habit of blogging is to adopt the habit of learning in public. Though the concept is not exactly new, it was beautifully presented by Shawn Wang on one of his blog posts.

This habit on itself is worth an entire post (or a series, even!), but I’d like to address some side effect of it that I realized recently. After watching the video of a talk by Johnathan Blow1, ”Preventing the Collapse of Civilization”, I was deeply intrigued (and somewhat scared) by its premise.

During his speech, Blow talks about many technologies and apparatus developed by past civilizations. Marvels of knowledge and craftsmanship that intrigue us even with our relative technical advancement. Some items that are unattainable by us today, even with our compendium of brilliant minds and machines.

The main reason that I could grasp for this loss of knowledge is none other than the difficulty to pass forward the said knowledge. How hard it is to explain to the future generations the concepts and context in which we based our methods and achievements! Without this sharing, the knowledge ends up being siloed. The technologies and its technical concepts become stale and wither. Nonetheless, we could use a simple command in our terminals and then everything will work fine! Except when it won’t.

All our toolings depend on a series of abstractions. That series of abstractions could be followed to an atomic level for what it is worth. And it is ok to use these tools, they make a big difference in our daily lives. But these are implementations on a lot of layers that can be hidden from view. What happens when the tool fails or we need something slightly different from what is provided out-of-the-box?

When we don’t know how something works, and we need to learn its underlying structure to solve the problems, we end up learning a lot. And if we share what we have learned, smaller and simple as it may look, even if it is for our future reference, we unshackle this information and provide a backup to the entire world (thanks, internet). We allow that wisdom to flourish and be remixed, and to serve a lot more than only solving your problem, being stuck in your head until you forget it.

We have this current blessing2 of being able to look for whatever we want, almost anyone, anywhere, just using our fingertips - literally. We can reach the latest academic discoveries about a disease, a material or many more from this world - or even others. And we can find out how to fix that snarky webpack config with the same ease.

How about we start sharing and discussing what we know? We may end up saving our civilization.

  1. Have you ever played Braid? Whatever is your response, this game deserves to be (re)played.

  2. It may also be a curse, but it is a talk for another occasion.

This text is cross-posted at You may go there to discuss and leave your comments.
Manoel Thiago Nogueira

These are merely musings written by Manoel Thiago Nogueira, a Brazilian Full Stack Developer. You can check what he is currently tinkering on his GitHub profile and follow him on Twitter.