They always taught me that it was through books that one learned. School cemented this: the most important things in school were the books, or the notes, or the slides that the teachers projected during class.
But it is always worth reassessing our beliefs. It is possible that the book has emerged as the main learning mechanism for purely technological reasons. Speech is a much older ability than writing; it makes sense that our brains are more apt to capture information through the spoken word.
In antiquity there was no way to preserve sound. The oral tradition was very strong, but it suffered from the inherent limitations of memory, and what information was transmitted through that mean was corrupted as it passed from generation to generation.
I have always been reading and writing: highlighting passages, elaborating marginalia. Not doing so is almost heresy. It pains me to believe that I can learn more (or retain the knowledge better) by simply listening. After all, reading and writing is an art that I spent much of my life mastering.
Yet, I can not deny that some podcasts, some interviews, some audiobook sections have left a much stronger imprint in my memory than most of the notes I’ve made over the past few decades.
It’s time to explore this further.