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Thomas Cordeiro
Thomas Cordeiro

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"Use" your non-tech friend to learn

So, in this article I want to explore this theme: “is it possible to learn tech from a person that is not in the tech-related field?” The answer is simply - “YES!”.

Let’s start with the principle that we all have friends and a healthy social life with people from diverse professional areas. With that in mind, it is normal to meet for a beer, tea, coffee, BBQ..., and once in a while, the subject work comes up. At least that happens to me.

I have been always selective when talking about programming, developing, the challenges I face when studying or coding. That means I wouldn’t talk to all of my friends deeply about tech and what happens “under the hood”. I used to think that a brief and superficial explanation would do when I am asked about programming and plus, it is not everybody that like to get deep on these conversations. For my big surprise, I found that some people are really open and interested to hear and discuss tech, you just have to make it somehow interesting for them. But how and what do you learn then?

I have always in mind that when you have to explain an idea or a concept, for example, you have previously learned, you reinforce the learning in your mind. Now, we all do talk more often about tech, with people from the field of tech, right? So it is easy to have a conversation, even if you are explaining something new, the other person has already an idea of how it works or at least the basics principles.

Now, what I have noticed is that when explaining a concept to a person that is not tech related, you have to put much more energy on it, much more effort, you are talking to a person that is not familiar with all or none of the terms, the nomenclatures and how things work. And here is the KEY, by making this explanation simple and understandable things become much more clear and it is very likely you have a “click” and also understand better something that was before not so clear.

First point: “ by making a simple explanation, where a person that is not from the field is able to understand how something works, you reinforce your learning and maybe understand something better”.

After being able to pass this first explanation, it is time to continue the conversation, and here comes my second point.

When talking to someone that looks and sees “our world” in a different way, it opens our mind to see things from a different perspective. What have always been taken as the only true, only solution or only way, now has a different point of view, and maybe it can be more accurate than the definition before, or it can aggregate knowledge or can just make you think more.

Second point: “ be open-minded to see things from a different point of view”

Of course, all of this will not apply to everybody that you talk. Some people won’t be at all interested in what you say and the conversation will be boring. We have to feel the moment.

My experience in doing this was very nice. I decided to explain to a friend I was making a software to classify objects according to given characteristics and it was the begging of my journey on Machine Learning. For my surprise, we got deep on the discussion and he was interested in knowing more, so we spent around 3 hours talking on the theme, from the definition of AI to complexity of algorithms. And I have learned so much from him, just by trying to explain in simple words the concepts of ML and by seeing his side of understanding and processing the info.

So, I strongly recommend: Talk to your friends, you will notice when they are genuinely interested in what you have to say, and that will be a plus to your learning.

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