Investing in reusable knowledge

Reusable knowledge is knowledge that can be re-applied and reused in a different situation, to solve a similar problem again. Let’s take an example.

Case 1: Mr. X is a programmer at a software company. Mr. X learns how to tune Apache and MySQL to handle 10x more traffic during a surge. Mr. X invested in reusable knowledge. If he moved to another company some day, and that company faced this problem, he would already know what the answer is.

Case 2: Mr. Y is a programmer at a software company. He knows that company’s systems inside out. He knows what each server does, he knows how the databases inter-connect, he knows how to fix that bug quickly, because he knows exactly which line it’s likely to be in. Great! But once he is out of that system, that company or that project, whatever he knows becomes practically useless. That is non-reusable learning.

I say useless, not worthless, because there is always something to learn in whatever you do. Agreed, that you will often need a little bit of both when you work anywhere. But are you focusing on (2) more than what is required?

All my life, I have consciously made it a point to invest only in knowledge that’s reusable. Of course I have to do the non-reusable stuff once in a while, but the goal is always to grab as much of (1) as I can. What about you?

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