A Simple Way to Diversify Your Knowledge

Do you want to have creative ideas? The Medici Effect (a book I review a few months ago) has an important advice to follow: live in the Intersection. As the book says:

When you step into an intersection of fields, disciplines, or cultures, you can combine existing concepts into a large number of extraordinary new ideas.

Diversify knowledgeThere are many ways to live in the Intersection, but here I’d like to share with you a simple way you can apply right now. It covers only one aspect of the Intersection (that is, the intersection of different fields of knowledge), but it’s very easy to apply. Here it is:

Read random articles on Wikipedia.
Wikipedia has millions of articles that cover virtually everything you can think of. Reading random articles from it will give you a diversity of knowledge. To read random articles on Wikipedia:

  1. Go to Wikipedia homepage.
  2. Press the keyboard shortcut to load a random article. The shortcut depends on your browser and operating system. In my case, I use Firefox 3 on Windows and the keyboard shortcut is Alt-Shift-X. You can see shortcuts for other browsers and operating systems here.
  3. To get another random article, press the keyboard shortcut again.

Doing this doesn’t take much time and you may do it in your spare time. Even spending only five minutes on it will enrich you knowledge.
Here are some tips to improve your “Intersection experience”:
1. For most articles, read only the introduction
Every Wikipedia article has an introduction section which consists of a few sentences. You only need to read this part when you get a new random article. This way you won’t spend too much time on an article and can quickly move to new articles (there are 11 million of them waiting for you!). You will cover more articles in the same amount of time.
2. Read more if the article is interesting
If the article is interesting, you can read more than just the introduction. In fact, many Wikipedia articles have See Also section that gives you links to related articles. You could read them too.
3. Connect what you read with what you already know
When you read random articles on Wikipedia, there is a good chance that you will find things you’ve never known before. In such a situation, you should connect it with things you already know. For example, you may read about a particular field in mathematics. You should find the connection between that field and other fields in mathematics you know. You may also connect it with other disciplines such as physics or economics. The more connections you make, the more benefit you will get.
4. Apply what you read to a problem you face
Trying to apply what you read to your problem will take you beyond diversifying your knowledge to improving your creative thinking. Even if what you read seems unrelated, try to find a connection between it and your problem. That may help you see your problem in a new perspective and give you fresh ideas to solve it.
As I wrote above, applying this doesn’t take much time. Even five minutes a day is helpful to give you an “Intersection experience.”
Photo by elbfoto


  1. I often do that with other blogs I read, TV shows and movies I watch on Hulu.com, and every time I research articles on the net for my own blog posts. Thanks for the tip, Donald!

  2. Shanel,
    That’s a good idea. We can diversify knowledge not just with Wikipedia but also with other sources like TV shows, movies, blogs, and articles.

  3. Diversity is a great way to ensure you’re not learning yourself into a corner.
    I also believe it’s important to keep a good right-brain / left-brain balance. Art and science. Nature and Math. Yin and Yang, if you will..

  4. MiniLifeHacks,
    I agree with you that it’s important to keep the left-right brain balance. That will certainly take us to a higher level of creativity.

  5. Great Article!
    You can even bookmark this link in your browser to access random Wikipedia pages!

  6. […] could enter into states of higher learning, states where we would have twice and maybe even three times the potential of what we normally had. […]

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