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Skill Trees


Today I write about skill trees.

Most people who’ve heard a term like this, skill tree, tech tree, evolutionary tree think of it as a technical term or gamer stuff or maybe academic culture. They would be correct about all three.

These are all examples of data organized as trees in an evolutionary way, where choices made at one level impact the progression at subsequent levels. This kind of organization is reflective of a learning context. People involved with evolutionary trees are learning things all the time to advance their knowledge and understanding of various subjects.

I've been thinking

I’ve been thinking about how best to apply this to my own life and for my family to foster that learning context. Khan Academy is a great skill tree based educational site for math and stem subjects. Courseware and Udemy have something that’s at least superficially like a skill tree. Courses are often grouped and tagged at difficulty levels so you can create a curriculum based on level progression through skills or knowledge.

What I don’t like is the management aspect of skill trees. I never liked it in games and I don’t like it in life. Some people love this stuff. They make spreadsheets for everything or log it all in Notes or Notion or similar apps. I’m currently using a mix of a note taking app and a task management app. Calendar events stay there because reminders and conflicts and repeating events.

It's a lot

It’s a lot to manage if you want to track your progress or just keep working through a skill one lesson or activity at a time. If you’re not busy it’s not too bad, just use one app or site per day and use their built in tools. If you are busy there are tools out there to help but I’m not aware of anything really addressing this way of thinking.

So skill trees are good but hard to manage with all of life’s ups and downs. The worst is that when you need it the most you’re the least likely to be using it. The second worst is that you need the info in your sheet or app or whatever before it’s useful. It’s often not useful info when you first enter it. It only becomes useful as you get busy with other pressing matters. When you can see easy wins and ways to use small windows of time productively, you’re more likely to make the effort. When just finding out if you have time to do anything takes up your time and focus…

That’s enough about skill trees.

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