Why Books Don't Work

Previously, I pointed to Maarten van Doorn’s excellent article on how to actively read a book.

Another good article is Why Books Don’t Work, by Andy Matuschak. I highly recommend reading that essay as well.

What both authors say is that we need to work with the material, exercise our muscles, repeat, and keep washing these concepts around in our brains to get them to stick and be useful. Books should be more interactive. They should ask you questions. They should ask you to review what you’ve just learned and put it into practice.

So Matuschak tried that for his latest book, Quantum Country. Well, it isn’t a book, it’s two chapters online, and each chapter has questions and exercises to really put the material to use. The material really teaches you about quantum computing - it’s not a layman’s simplification, it’s a clear explanation of the physics and the math involved. You can register, and they have an email system that sends you an email to help you work with the concepts from each chapter. They call it an “experimental mnemonic medium.”

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This is definitely the kind of experiment I hope we see more of.