Learning Exhaust

By Monte Fischer

Last updated: 07 Apr 2020

Today I came across a couple interesting blog posts. The most important one is Learn in Public by swyx. His first rule is that whatever you are doing, create learning exhaust that documents what you did and the problem you solved. This is not primarily for the public, but for your future self. Examples of learning exhaust: blogs, tutorials, cheatsheets, presentations at conferences, youtube videos, newsletters, answers on Reddit and Stack Overflow, etc.. I know that I’ve personally benefitted a great deal from this sort of online content, but have only just started to produce it myself (like this). Swyx’s post is a great inspiration for doing more of this work myself.

Swyx put out another post which makes this very concrete by focusing on software development. The rule is: pick up what they put down, meaning follow a handful of people who are working on things that inspire you, and start learning about these projects. When you create learning exhaust from doing this, communicate it to the person who worked on it. Examples abound: learning about a new library and producing a youtube video about it, asking intelligent questions about parts of a system that don’t make sense to you, summarize the highlights of a recent course. Focus on recent projects to have a better chance of forging real (online) relationships with the people behind them.

For most of my life, I have been an online content consumer. As swyx points out, most, almost all, people are internet consumers. This means an opportunity for those who are willing to muster up the energy to create learning exhaust and promote themselves. As I begin a career in tech, this is something that I keep in mind.