Tick-Tock Synthesis

Synthesis is the phase of learning where we apply what we have learned in new ways. It is the point when we begin to understand how what we have learned connects with what we already know, and how those connections can be used to apply our new learning differently. I consider synthesis to be the most important part of my education at Launch Academy, so I’m extremely deliberate in the way I approach synthesizing new knowledge.

My approach can be compared with Intel’s famous “Tick-Tock” methodology. Every year, Intel with either “tick” by shrinking the size of the transistors on their processors, or they will “tock” by introducing a new architecture. The tick-tock approach limits the novelty, and hence the complexity, of each iteration.

Just a second by pbosakov, on Flickr
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When I’m synthesizing a new, major piece of knowledge, I’ll “tick” by implementing the new knowledge in a safe environment. Safe, in this sense, means that poor implementation is acceptable and breaking stuff is strongly encouraged. In Launch Academy, my “tick” synthesis occurs in my side project: TimeVault. The freedom of the “tick” phase allows me to more quickly experiment and make inevitable mistakes.

The “tock” phase of synthesis involves implementing the new learning in fashion more consistent with industry best practices. In Launch Academy, my “tock” project has been Memworks. During the “tock”, my objective has been to meet or exceed what would be expected of a junior-level professional. The reasoning for this is twofold:

  • Becoming familiar with best practices, particularly in a field such as web development, is critical for quality output.
  • I will often use the result of my “tock” synthesis as reference material later on. The source for my “tock” project will serve as a yardstick against which I will measure future efforts.

I’m constantly looking for new ways to improve synthesis. If you have any tips, please give a shout in the comments!

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