Only the Autodidacts Are Free – Why I Have a Personal Library

Hans de Zwart, Scripting News, Ruud de Moor Centrum, International Conference on Information Systems, Education Next, Mar 01, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

When I visit a new city, I always face the same choices: explore it by my self, on foot, or take a tour offered by a tour agency or even a willing conference host. I almost always take the former. Why? The latter may be a 'more efficient' way of learning about a city, and almost always safer, but when I guide myself I get a much closer, much more personal, and much more unpredictable experience of the city. No, it's not for everyone, but if you have the basic ability to learn and navigate, and if seeing the people, the alleyways, the graffiti and the ordinary and day-to-day of a city - or a discipline - matter to you, then you will opt to guide yourself. This is not simply random wandering - I do my reading, consult maps, and get a lay of the land before I venture out into it. As Taleb writes, "Only the autodidacts are free. And not just in school matters—those who decommoditize, detouristify their lives." (Photo: my walk through Philadelphia)

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