On picking hobbies (Part 3)

Ah, a trilogy of posts… Anyway, this is the conclusion to my epic journey on how I settled on my ultimate hobby. For the uninitiated, the search is documented in part 1 and part 2.

In this final part I discuss the hobby of ‘learning’. Sounds like a ruddy awful thing doesn’t it? The kind of things they lock you up in schools and try and make you do? Well, I was always a bit odd in that sense. I liked to ask questions in class and engage the teachers in a dialogue.


I also, raised my hand a lot, to ask questions and well, because I liked having the answer… A very entertaining moment was in my recent MBA class when I asked my strategy professor a question about  a case study we were discussing. I debated the merits of my argument with great enthusiasm… but, little did my professor know, I had never read the case. (or maybe he did know that) Anyway, the point of that is, I like to learn and discuss new topics. So why not make it a hobby.

See, I didn’t magically arrive at that conclusion after having thought about the previous options in such great detail. If anything, the idea was nurtured organically. Over a period of time while I read about Japanese Shoguns, Astronomy, Philosophy, Ethics, Evolution of Search Engines and programming languages like python… what I was doing when I randomly picked one of these topics was simple- I had decided I wanted to know learn more about this subject area.


I do not aspire to master any one of these fields. Sure, i pour hours of my life into Quora and iTunesU… but the purpose is to be a traveller. To get the basics so I may explore any topic I wish to in detail… at a later date. If that sounds vague and uninteresting, well, it is. But reading a wide variety of topics is my substitute for gaining experiences. I wanted to learn about Astronomy because I had spent a few weekends listening to all the TED conferences about space travel and followed that with a course on basic astronomy from iTunesU. I never wanted to go out and buy a Telescope and gaze at the heavens, but the knowledge would fuel my imagination in other ways. Would I be able to think of a new sci-fi book? Would I be able to use what I had been reading about the future of ‘inter-continental’ internet and build new products at my workplace?


In short, the reason for all this reading is that it could make me a creative thinker. I do not for a moment think that this is easily done. On no! It would take work. it would take all of my spare time and more. There would be sleepless nights when I would hastily finish reading a book and then watch a video summary about some random topic that I wanted to learn about… Maybe I would write about it next and then take a course in coursera to delve deeper. Finally at the end of a weekend, I may sit down and write a program or network with someone who is working in the same space. Reading research papers is not a stupid hobby any more, it could lead to a new role, a new product… This really could be something where time invested gave astounding returns.

And yes, so this ad-hoc approach to learning… won.

Here are some of the sources I would recommend to anyone:

1) Quora, 2) TED, 3) Brain Pickings, 4) iTunes U, 5) Mental Floss, 6) Khan Academy, 7) Hack Design, 8) Coursera, 9) The Atlantic

Making learning the ultimate hobby, the lifetime hobby is perhaps the most sensible decision I ever made. I have noticed improvements in my conversations with others- where I can make insightful observations and humorous anecdotes. But more importantly, It also has made me an excellent ad-hoc researcher and a Google Search expert. I can locate documents I need and try and find information quickly. I can expand both the complexity of my ideas and the scale of their impact. A little imagination can go a long way!

In some ways of course, I cheated. But putting learning as my hobby, I have integrated watching movies/YouTube and reading together. Weren’t they the strong contenders for my free time anyway? Essentially what I have done then, is to curate the content that I read. I have created a system around the chaos that was all of my internet searches and streamlined what I watch, what I read and what I put aside as unimportant. Sure my bookmarks jumped to a whopping 183 links, but they are categorized and it makes my search easier.

Anyway- that’s my hobby- to learn. Right now I am spending time on learning R, a statistical programming language and everything I can about microfinance industry. And, I continue to write!! So… yay!


One comment

  1. layine Carter · November 18, 2013

    I really enjoyed reading your article 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s