(How to be an Autodidact)
My innate modesty forbids me to point out that this material is entirely original, but if you show your many friends this page, you could, of course, rather pointedly mention that fact for me. P:D
These are lessons I leaned from being a gamer (NOT JUST or MERELY playing games). See the page I've just barely started here. For a justification in terms of epistemology, see The Wilson-Leary Circuits Made Comprehensible by Someone Who Actually Understands Them.
Heed your emotions and instincts
List your gut feelings
Decide which ones you like
Analyze and transform the feelings and instincts you find troubling
Continue this process as you proceed through the remaining steps, or at least keep this process in mind if you run into problems later
Keep a record of how you proceed throughout, in part so that you can evaluate how well you adhered to your own values, and what the greatest challenges were.
Take an extremely broad perspective on the domain in question and find as many ways to view the problem as possible
Consider the extreme boundaries of the situation, whether the domain in consideration has discrete boundaries or blends into its context, and what these boundaries imply in terms of:
- opportunity management, synergistic effects, and cooperative efforts
- threat management, dysfunctional "drift", and attack surfaces
Always be aware of the possibility of "keyhole" connectors between domains.
And again, continue to modify these considerations
Look for the limits of your own perceptual abilities and the limits of your analytical tools and instruments.
Compare the extent of the domain to these limitations. Do some aspects of the domain fall outside your perceptual and analytical capabilities? If so, what can you do to fix this deeper problem, or at least minimize the impact?
"Being in the world" in this virtual domain is the real goal of this effort, and none of your efforts has to have any real importance beyond your understanding of the domain. Immerse yourself in the space and become exceptionally familiar with all of the features in a small "THQ" (tactical headquarters).
Having made yourself at home in a small foothold of the domain, you can now adapt yourself to "survival" in this new environment, and alter its features to your liking. You can use natural features as tools, either as they are, or shaped into tools by using forces and principles fundamental to the domain.
Design and build resources that are more intuitive and convenient to your efforts, until dealing with the domain is almost as intuitive to you as dealing with the real world. Master and domesticate the domain: own it, at least in your own mind.
It will help to form analogies between features of the domain and features of the real world, so long as you don't allow these analogies to become long-standing approximations of what these entities really are. Analogies should ease your way to full understanding, rather than become obstacles or obfuscations. Know this domain for what it really is, and give it new shape where necessary.
Having become perfectly at home "being" in this virtual domain, now is the time to proceed with thinking and doing the things that matter to you in the real world. Step back and outline what you wish to truly accomplish, and how you now plan to fulfill these goals. In some cases there will still be unknowns left to fill in, while in others new solutions will jump out at you, because the features you need as tools are as real to you as the features of the real world.
This is also a good time to begin drawing analogies between the first domain, and any other domains you have mastered, as they may serve you well in creating tools that perform functions you need in the real world.
As you accomplish these goals, look for other efforts you might like to make with similar methods. Ask yourself what others might like to have done within this domain, in order to join you and assist you in your efforts.
Look back on the entire process of coming to achieve the goals you have set for yourself. Hopefully the notes you have taken throughout form a narrative that makes the whole effort complete.
Make a special effort to detail all your successes and failures, and some of the things that made the most difference between the two. Go ahead and congratulate yourself on your successes, and examine where your failures resulted from some lack on your part, but don't get a big head or beat yourself up. Do try to credit or blame the things that really did make a difference in your efforts.
Try to summarize your efforts as clearly and as simply as possible. Imagine that you could explain the whole domain to yourself as you were when you first began; such a body of knowledge might prove immensely valuable to anyone who might choose to begin their own adventure of the same sort.
In addition, some of the things you will have learned will be of use to almost anyone, as they are more general to the nature of exploring any domain, but their novel value originates in the uniqueness of the domain and the personal nature of your efforts. Some lessons are just easier to learn in some ways than in others, or cannot be learned in any other way at all. If this virtual space that in which you have made yourself at home possesses unique features that make certain lessons almost absolutely unique to the experience, highlight these lessons for special attention. The very same lesson that has invaluable uses in a more familiar domain may be completely unavailable or prohibitively expensive to develop there!
Now to one of my favorite steps! P;D (Yes, I should!)
Put your best material out there in the big world, in just about any way you can manage it. If you become recognized, even in an informal way, for being knowledgeable in a particular field, try to be patient and generous in sharing it when it seems welcome. Encourage others in their efforts to develop similar bodies of knowledge and expertise. They may develop a body of knowledge that you find helpful and useful. Hopefully this little essay of mine has been encouraging to you!