Week 14, 2020 - Compile a Book

When I look at my bookshelves, I have the same question as Paul Graham1: What use is it to read all these books if I remember so little from them? I always feel uneasy about forgetting so much I’ve read.

Paul likened reading to code compilation.

Reading and experience train your model of the world. And even if you forget the experience or what you read, its effect on your model of the world persists. Your mind is like a compiled program you’ve lost the source of. It works, but you don’t know why.

There are specific implications.

It is very much worth reading important books multiple times, becuase reading and experience are usually “compiled” at the time they happen, using the state of your brain at that time. The same book would get compiled differently at different points in your life.

Technology will increasingly make it possible to relive our experiences. But as technologies for recording and playing back your life improve, it may become common for people to relive experiences without any goal in mind, simply to learn from them again as one might when rereading a book.

  1. http://www.paulgraham.com/know.html