Why is the site called The Unlearner?


If you created this site specifically for learning new things, why is it called
The Unlearner?

The name was inspired by a quote in A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes novel. There’s a famous scene where Holmes talks about the importance of unlearning so you can learn things that really matter.

I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.

It isn’t easy being online these days. For instance, no sooner have you tweeted about the puppy doing one-legged backflips to YMCA than your friend posts a link to “91 Reasons Why Pizza for Breakfast Is Awesome” on your Facebook timeline. But wait, before you click that, you still have to check “You won’t BELIEVE what this poor, homeless, eel got for Christmas!” Where are you going? You’ve barely even scanned through today’s latest memes and pictures on Reddit. Was that pinging sound yet another email from your inbox?

And that’s just you before lunchtime.

The web is the single biggest collection of all human knowledge. The sum of our all our ideas, wisdom and experience. And yet, I realized that these fabulous riches of the web were denied to me. My inbox, dashboards and timelines were overflowing with three things: clickbait, memes, and cats. And while no one could fault me liking cats, I must admit I occasionally stopped and wondered whether there was a better way to make use of my time online.

I wanted to unlearn the noisy, cluttered, click-bait filled swamp of memes, gifs and listicles, and start learning what really mattered. Things that were inspiring, things that made me think and added value. And I wanted a place where I could keep track of all these things, cross-connect them and make sense of what I had understood.

And that was how The Unlearner came about.