Unicycle #12 - Implicit Learning, Explicit Music

As a reminder, I’m Alex Grintsvayg and you’re reading Unicycle. I welcome your feedback - hit Reply or message me anonymously. If someone forwarded you this email, subscribe here to follow along.

Hello dear friends :-)

This Week’s Curious Idea

Implicit knowledge is a fascinating thing. There are things you know, perhaps even know extremely well, that you are incapable of putting in words or teaching to someone else. Many of the things you do everyday are like this: walking, talking (you may think you know the rules of grammar but you don’t), falling asleep. Even something as seemingly simple as swallowing took you months of trial and error to master when you were a baby … or maybe not — some people don’t figure it out on their own and need coaching.

The traditional advice for learning unteachable things is repetition. Keep trying to do the thing until you get it right. That’s what most athletes do (sport skills tend to be implicit). And if they’re really dedicated, they hire coaches. What makes a coach special is they can model in their mind what it’s like to be unskilled.

When my daughter’s hair started to get long enough to braid, I hired a few coaches to help me learn how to do it. That is, I asked the women on my Ultimate team to teach me. They were very enthusiastic and ultimately very unhelpful, because they could not accurately model what it’s like for me as a novice. They focused on superficial details and did not emphasize the basics. Eventually I figured out the tricks (start at the front and aim high) by trial and error and watching Diana do it a bunch.

Next time you’re teaching someone, remember:

In order to tell somebody a thing, you need to know and understand what it’s like to not already know that thing.
~ Neal Stephenson

In Rotation

I’ve been playing three genres a lot lately: chill house, jungle, and full-on psytrance. The former has become my default music while working. DJ Black Coffee fits this genre (I linked him a few weeks ago), as well as songs like this one (the vocals are especially great):

The other two, jungle and psytrance, are were my staple in high school and college but have since fallen into the background. That’s partially because I’ve stopped going to warehouse parties, and partially because my favorite artists switched to other styles or stopped putting out new stuff completely.

So I was very excited to revisit both recently (thanks to the music channel in LBRY slack). The scene has changed, but there’s great new stuff to hear. Here’s a recent jungle track that sounds like it was made in 2000 (that’s a good thing):

And here’s Mandragora, a crazy crazy man making amazing dance music (I like it implicitly 😉). If I ever go to another music festival, I hope he’s there.


I’m moving the newsletter back to Friday. That works better with my schedule. Sorry, everyone who liked it better mid-week. You’ll get the next Unicycle on Friday, October 23rd.

This newsletter goes out every Wednesday by 12pm ET (but is moving to Friday). If I’m late, I’ll pay $200 to the first person who emails me about it. Got this after noon? Hit Reply and make me pay! Thanks for keeping me accountable.