I’m an avid consumer of content, especially online.
My Google Reader is always at or near 1000 items and I keep adding new websites, blogs, and RSS feeds every single week.
I read a wide variety of online content; from Mashable and Social Media to the New York Times and Current Events, to more specific blogs and websites such as Ad Age for Advertising, Search Engine Land for SEO, so on and so forth.
Yet as I was going through my Google Reader the other day, I asked myself the question, What am I really learning from all this?
There’s no doubt that reading oodles of content increases my value, making me a more informed and intellectually curious person.
But apart from the intellectual benefits, I consume a lot of content online to keep me updated about the career fields I’m interested in, and to make me more competitive for jobs after graduation.
From my reading, I could tell you about the photo-sharing start-up Instagram, how much it has received in venture funding, yet I’ve still never used it.
I could also tell you about how the Mobile space is set to experience explosive growth in 2011 lead by smartphone growth and tablets, yet I haven’t really prepared myself to take advantage of said growth.
Reading all this online content, while great, I feel only gives me a topical understanding of these related fields. From just reading, I can grasp the “big ideas” and see what is trending, but I’m starting to realize that to gain a deep understanding and to truly have an impact in those fields, I need to fully immerse myself.
This means that when a new search engine comes out, like Blekko did recently, I’m not just reading reviews to learn how it works. I’m also actively using the service, and therefore learning by doing.
This means, instead of only reading how and why Angry Birds has captivated the attention of millions of people, I’m also playing Angry Birds to understand why it is so popular.
This all seems rather obvious, but I feel that many people, including myself are guilty of this.
If you truly want to learn something, and learn it well, there is NO teacher better than experience.
Sure, consulting someone or an online guide or reading a post on How-To-Blog might be very helpful, but you won’t gain a deep understanding or learn the nuances unless you actively blog yourself.
So this New Year, I hope to fully immerse myself into everything (OK not everything, but many things) I read about.
Because that’s the best way to learn something, and learn it well.