I’ve made aha.betterexplained.com to share aha! moments. In 3 words, “Twitter meets Wikipedia”.

Why?

  1. Writing articles hurts: research, collect thoughts, organize, filter the best, and write. This takes 20+ hours, and most articles languish half-done.

  2. People don’t share “Ah, I get it!” moments on Wikipedia — that’s not its goal. Yet those personal insights are what make ideas click.

My goals:

  • Collect insights as simple as tweets (“Imaginary numbers are regular numbers, rotated”)
  • Categorize them by Wikipedia topic
  • Use voting/comments to select the best insights to develop further (hacker news/reddit/stack overflow)
  • Grow insights organically — an optional “details” section that can expand into an article (Wikipedia)
  • Browse any topic or url and see the best insights for it

Distributed Learning

My friends suggested the term “distributed learning”. While understanding a topic is a personal journey, we can share what really, truly helped us “get” an idea.

For example: there was an excellent article on the Fourier Transform. One of the best parts:

Fourier Transform Explained

He color coded the equation and made it a sentence. Why, oh why doesn’t every wiki math article have this? (Because it’s a reference, not a tutorial).

There are dozens of awesome techniques to help ideas click, and they need to be 1) exposed 2) filtered and 3) applied to topics.

Vision

I’m experimenting with ways to share insights. Some ideas:

Hacker-news like homepage to vote up popular insights:

Popular insight view

While reading a page, keep insights on the “margin”:

Insights on the margin

While writing, have live-previews, TeX support, and edit multiple insights at once:

Live previews

The ultimate dream:

  • Small: Anyone can blast out insights without 90% being forgotten in text files (my personal use case)
  • Medium: Insights in-progress can be developed / commented / ranked
  • Big: Visit a topic like “imaginary numbers” and get an organized view of the best insights, diagrams, analogies and examples (not another tutorial walking through the definitions that didn’t work the first time)

This isn’t a replacement for Q&A sites, wikis, or blogs — it’s a repository of insights that helped speed up the learning process from those other sources.

Future

Let’s explore ways to reduce the friction while learning: make it easy to share ideas, and filter the ones that work best.

I’ll be writing as normal, but instead of starting with private notes that wither away, I’ll keep ideas in a public arena. The best insights can be combined and developed into full-on articles.

The project is brand-new, evolving, and feedback is welcome! Feel free to kick the tires and add your own ahas to the mix :).