I’m spending the whole day at a seminar in Seattle, learning a little bit more technical detail about some 3rd party products used by our company, taught by a 4th party collaborator. Eric and I are sitting out on the balcony during the lunch break talking about the usefulness of such seminars given the age of the Internet and an inquisitive mind.

I definitely think having an “expert” who is an actual person you interact with over the course of the seminar is key. Tons of learning happens in a dialog-type process where two thoughtful people are disussing the various merits and problems with (in this case) a technology. Even when one participant has extra/asymmetric knowledge, that person can be delightfully surprised by insights of the other, even as the less-knowledgeable person learns the “normal” way.

There’s also definite merit to having an atmosphere of learning, particularly focused on one specific area, separate from day-to-day activity. I can focus better, and I’m essentially forced to pay attention. Multitasking can certainly be efficient, but as Starcraft rapidly taught me, attention is a resource that you should willfully spend or you lose it.

Overall, I’m happy to have this opportunity to learn in a seminar context but kind of wish it was on something I cared more personally about.