The Q*bert Way of Life

The internet is built for curiosity, for following different paths and discovering new things. It’s called surfing the internet because you ride a wave of information that takes you in different directions. If a page you’re looking at has links to something else you might click them and the new page probably has links of its own and you might click them too. By the time you’re done you may have ventured far from where you began.  But what did we do before the internet?

Successful people have always viewed the world like an internet of tangible items. Successful people hyper-link through life because they want to understand, to learn how things work. My recent post about Leonardo da Vinci is a perfect example of that kind of thinking. Da Vinci’s notebook reveals that he wanted to learn about proportion, how the sun is measured, understand hydrolics, and draw Milan, among other things. Who knows what sparked those interests but he pursued them just as today we simply click a new link.


Remember the game Q*bert? The goal was to hop from square to square on a pyramid, changing all blocks to the same color. That’s how curious people approach learning, hopping from interest to interest. Unlike Q*bert, however, we can linger on something that really interests us.

When I read a book or magazine article, whether online or in print, anything that interests me becomes a link I can “click” on by doing my own research. If I’m driving and see some web site posted on a car (and I can’t figure out what it is on my own) I’ll check it out. It might be cool, it might be dumb, but it’s worth the two seconds it takes to find out.

OK, so here’s how the Q*bert theory of curiosity works for me. A person I follow on Twitter tweeted a link to an article on I clicked it and read it, but didn’t think it was that good. There were several links in the article, though and I clicked on two of them. One was for Academic Earth where you can watch videos of very smart people saying really useful stuff. I clicked on one video but didn’t like it much so I went back to poking around. Then I found another video and this one was great. It was from 2007 but who cares as long as I found something relevant in it. Now I’m going to tweet a link to this video and who knows who will watch it next. Then I turned my attention to the other link from the article and I spent about 20 minutes watching videos about probability. That is the definition of curiosity and the difference between me and someone else is that I clicked and others don’t.

So how many links in this post did you click on before reading this sentence? Be honest and let me know by adding a comment below.

Be curious!

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