Home » How to Build Knowledge per Elon Musk

How to Build Knowledge per Elon Musk

Let’s set the stage a little bit, first.

In June 2014, I had one of the more transformative experiences of my entire life. I decided to attend the Firefly 2014 Music Festival. Thanks to Mauricio, a great Hokie friend of mine, my  reservations about entering an environment where I would not be able to shower and also be rolling around in a giant dust bowl without super-convenient access to electricity were basically made non-existent. Check out the blog post about Firefly itself to learn more about that.

However, one of those main things is what we’ll zero-in on for this post: the lack of super-convenient access to electricity.  At Firefly, they had cell phone charging tents on-grounds where … you can go to do exactly what it sounds like: charge your cell phone! While charging my phone, this particularly day I remember well becuase it was the same day as a big World Cup game for the U.S.A., I ran into a man named J.P.  J.P. was my 1 new person that day.

JP Farnam
As always, click the image to make it a bit larger if you’d like.


So as you can see there, J.P. sent a meaningful note about a blog named Farnam Street.  Later that summer when I began to use the news-agreegating app Feedly, I made sure to keep perusing Farnam Street. Farnam Street’s focus on culture and reading interesting books really grabbed my attention – as those are two things that I’m constantly become more engaged with and familiar with myself. It just struck me as a great blog, almost immeadiately.

Now, fast forward this past week.  Uber-popular entrepreneur and space advocate Elon Musk did a “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) session on Reddit, and while I didn’t catch it while it was active, it was all over my social media after the fact. I decided to scroll through it and catch some of the highlights, and ironically enough, all of the news coverage that I saw about the AMA session afterward were precisely my favorite parts about the entire session.

While I’m not too much a fan-boy of of Mr. Musk (admittedly I have not taken a ton of time to learn about him outside of the things that everyone knows about him: that he is from South Africa, is CEO of SpaceX, a co-founder of PayPal, a co-founder of Tesla Motors, and super innovative and risky in terms of his thoughts on transporatiton), I super-duper respect him because I know he care a lot about education. I think this one quote that he shared during his AMA session reflects that succinctly:

One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree — make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.

Yesterday, Farnam Street posted a great three-and-done highlight of what they thought was most interesting from Musk’s AMA session and I agreed with every single one. You can find their post here. Really though. Check it out.

Farnam Street: Elon Musk on How To Build Knowledge

Shoutout to J.P. for showing me Farnam Street and shout out to Shane Parrish for the great work he’s doing over at Farnam Street. It’s websites like these that make me excited and happy to get push alerts on my phone. Because I know that there’s a change they aren’t going to be a pointless note from Twitter about things the people I follow are retweeting. I know that I might open my Feedly to be greeted with something thought-provoking, intellectual, and head-scratching. And I think THAT is what the internet is all about: information discovery and knowledge gathering.

At the end of the day, I always have thought the real question is: how do you manage all of that information…knowledge…and stuff?

More on that in future.