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“I Know Kung Fu…” “Show Me.”
I was 12 years old when I first watched The Matrix. I remember being absolutely mesmerized by the Training Program. Neo got thrust into a virtual reality program designed to teach him … anything. Hand-to-hand combat. Kung fu. Flying a helicopter.
The only limit to his learning was his own curiosity, determination, and effort. He’d train for ten hours straight in a safe environment, getting quality rep after rep of whatever skill he was hoping to master.
Neo was immersed in a world of learning. There were no lectures or handouts, just direct experience, introspection, and guidance from an expert standing alongside him.
Video as a Tool for Immersion
It’s been over two decades since The Matrix came out (the sequels are trash, but that’s a different story). And I have taken Neo’s Training Program to heart. It has never left me. My best learning experiences have consistently occurred outside of conventional desk-and-blackboard environments. Where I’ve been fully immersed in a world (France, Lebanon, computing, startups).
Here’s the kicker: We can create these types of immersive experiences without uprooting our lives or spending tens of thousands of dollars or buying fancy VR headsets.
It just takes some resourcefulness and imagination.
We have professional-grade video cameras in our pocket now. We have the ability to capture, edit, and analyze video. We have experts available to us within a few taps of the screen.
Let me show you what this could look like..
“Overlay”: Google Docs for Video
I frickin’ love tennis. I always have, but I discovered the depth of it way too late. By the time I knew I wanted to get proper training and play 6 hours a day, I was getting ready to go to college. Whoops!
For the past couple months, I’ve been honoring teenage Ammar’s passion for tennis. On most mornings, I head over to a local park, set up a tripod, and film myself hitting tennis balls against a concrete wall.
I review these videos and share them with a local coach. He gives me feedback. It looks like this:
I’ve now bootstrapped a low-cost immersive tennis training experience.
Rather than pay thousands of dollars for training, I get one tennis lesson per week with my coach. The other days of the week, I go out and practice using the tools available to me: A wall, a piece of a tape, and a tripod.
After practice, I review and introspect. I can zoom, slow down, speed up, loop, and markup my videos. So can my coach. So can anyone else I invite to give me feedback. I can compare my technique from today side-by-side with my technique from last month or with Dominic Thiem’s technique.
It’s still early days, and I am discovering limitations to video-first. But man, the rapid improvement in my tennis game has been totally worth it.
What’s been most exciting is imagining the various other applications: cooking, music, painting, design, programming, public speaking, you name it.
Future emails will be mostly focused around sharing any developments I’m making on Overlay. If you’re interested in hearing more about this, let me know.
Happy new year everyone! Here’s to a transformative ‘22.
Note: I don’t want to waste anyone’s time here. If you don’t enjoy these emails, please unsubscribe. I won’t take it personally. I am currently not very active on social media except for emails like this and text messages.