April 24, 2016

I’m coming around to the idea that reading and writing through physical mediums (books, pen, and paper) is better for learning. I believe it is because of the inefficiency. It is precisely because digital mediums are so efficient that we don’t remember what we learn. How we humans learn is inherently inefficient so we need inefficient ways of learning.

For instance, research has shown that we remember better when a textbook is set with a typeface that is hard to read. We often remember where on the page some piece of information appeared. We also remember what kind of notebook and pen we used to write down something. These types of contextual information have no direct relationship to the actual content we want to retain or retrieve but play a significant role in how we remember.

I think inefficiency in general plays an important role in improving the quality of our lives but we all assume efficiency to be a universally desirable quality. Our relentless pursuit of efficiency has already passed the optimal point for the quality of our lives. It is beginning to decline because of efficiency.