The Surface Area of Knowledge

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As we know:

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.


But how do we come to know more unknowns?

Think about the known unknowns as the surface area of your knowledge:
A diagram representing our known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns

Unfortunately, for this diagram to be truly useful, we would need it to be 3/4/x dimensional. For things we can know we know (e.g. gravity), are often far more neuanced than we might first think.

Even your known knowns, are full of unknown unknowns.
There are a few ways we could go:

  • Focus on 'digging deep' and become an 'expert' in a particular field (see Albert Einstein)
  • Focus on expanding your surface area, and become a 'generalist' in many fields (see Elon Musk, etc.)
  • Stay static, only expand our surface area as things come to us

People have disparate reasons for pursuing each path, some might mix, some might choose one.

Whatever your path, remember this:
"It ain't what you don't know that get you into trouble, it's the things you know that just ain't so."