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art development

Plagiarism as the Moving Force of Art Development

Every system has its own rules, laws, schemes and connections. Without certain rules there would be no systematic approaches in science, politics, culture and art. The moving force of science is data collection, research and experiments. Politics is pushed forward by politicians and sometimes people or nations, culture is influenced directly by people, their tastes, knowledge, education, and memory.

What is art moved forward by?

In the heading of this article, I named plagiarism as the moving force of art development. But do you agree with that? Do you agree that the act of stealing someone’s work leads to a new work of art or better work of art? Do you really think that an artistic fraud leads to something extraordinarily good and perfect?

I would not be fighting for that idea either, but I am pretty sure that plagiarism has a positive influence on art development, even though it is treated negatively by our world and culture.

Without a doubt, as an artist I would be mortally offended if I found out that someone in the country where I live or somewhere across the ocean took my work, copied it and presented it as their own masterpiece. But, as a true artist, I would be extremely gladdened by that fact. You must wonder what I mean by this.

If you had enough time to read the semi-biographic novels and short stories or essays of famous authors, if you read enough novels about the famous artists, if you had read the diaries and notes of the painters like Van Gogh, you would know the answer for sure. Every artist – a poet, a dramatist, a painter, a sculptor, a composer – as the true bearer of the depths of art and primeval artistic instincts, cares about the only single thing.

Artists’ sincerest aim and goal is to objectivise their artistic instincts, desires and urges, to implement them into writing, musical sets, sculptures, buildings, and paintings – to ease the artistic pain and strong desire to create.

They create one artwork, they feel better, free, independent of the artistic muse locked inside them. Several hours, days, weeks or months later the muse becomes strong again, the willingness and necessity to create grows and at a certain moment becomes irresistible. And then the new work of art is presented to the world. Some artists managed to make a success out of their inner artistic muses, some managed to cooperate with them and live more or less happily, others fought their whole life with muses’ desires and the expectations of society. At the same time there might be talented people who do not have the artistic urge and have never met the muse of the arts. They would be able to trace the general tendency, copy from this or that artist and present a commercially successful piece – artworks that cost money but hardly have any soul.

So, returning to the question – why should I be happy if my work is stolen by another artist? If money does not matter for me and the only thing I care is fighting my urge for artistic expression, I would be happy to know that one person saw/ read/ listened to my work. It means I have one reader/ listener/ observer, and that means my muses reached their final destination – I passed my vision of the world to another person, and it actually does not matter if they accept it.

If someone steals my work – whether it is conscious or subconscious plagiarism – I will have a feeling that my vision was very good or prospective – another person will present it and share it, and my artistic vision of the world will face even more people and, most likely, spread further in forms of adaptations, copies, or transformations.

I cannot but mention the fact that all artists choose their artistic path out of the urge for expression, and they all hope that their works will find thankful customers and provide the artists with roofs and food.

Along with:

  • a lack of imagination
  • the desire to recreate old plots in modern contexts
  • the willingness to create a perfect version of a not-very-perfect artwork of other generations
  • introduction of new arts
  • the intention to fill in the artistic gaps
  • and the permanent strong separation-integration ties between all the arts

commercialisation of arts stimulates copying and adaptation – that is, plagiarism – which in its own turn pushes all the arts further on.

Plagiarism stimulates many processes in the arts, and at least it provides a variety of forms and styles, facilitates changes and faster spreading of some ideas. We cannot hide from it and say that it is just an artistic fraud, we should accept the fact that it has always been like that. The rules of art have changed drastically (to compare with the Antiquity epoch), but the results are the same.

One artist steals from another, and this theft creates even more adaptation by stimulation of copies to the plagiaristic copy or the original work of art, which altogether pushes the arts further in their mutual development.


5 Rip-Offs that Became Successful Businesses

“One can steal ideas, but no one can steal execution or passion.”
Tim Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek

Because the tech industry is so focused on innovation and disruption, it’s easy to forget that many of its biggest success stories were not based on original ideas of their founders.

Instead, the key to success often depends on taking a concept that already exists in the world and executing it better than anyone else (including the companies who came up with the idea). Improving upon the initial concept could mean optimizing the user experience, offering better content, or broadening its scope.

If the founders of the new company can convince investors to fund their new and improved concept, they may find themselves with more resources than the originators of the idea ever dreamed of, which can help to build bigger, faster, prettier products that can eventually eradicate the “old site” from the minds of users. For example, most people don’t even remember Friendster, despite the fact that it pre-dated almost all of today’s social sites.

Here are five of the most famous cases of successful rip-offs:

1. Facebook vs. ConnectU

Even if you’ve never seen The Social Network, you’ve probably heard bits and pieces of Facebook’s origin story which very closely overlaps ConnectU (a social website that launched in 2004) and its origin story. As the story goes, Zuckerberg agreed to collaborate with his Harvard classmates on ConnectU (or HarvardConnection, as it was initially called) but, was then inspired to take the idea and build his own platform, which eventually led to the launch of Facebook. His classmates accused him of stealing source code in addition to the overall idea. Several lawsuits eventually ended in a settlement, as depicted in the movie.

2. Google vs. Apple

This is a rare case in which both companies are not only still in existence, but are still incredibly successful. Steve Jobs once referred to Android as “stolen product,” – was he being dramatic, or was there truth to his accusation? There is more to the rivalry between Apple and Google than just corporate giants competing for market share. Jobs’ comments on Android had to do with what he saw as flagrant violations of patents that Apple owned and the Android technology violated, and he took it personally. That’s because, in 2003, when Google founders tried to convince Jobs to become their CEO, Jobs instead offered to mentor Larry Page and Sergey Brin, sharing many of his personal resources and contacts. Jobs believed that he was deceived by the Google founders, who he believed to have stolen Apple secrets to create Google technology.

3. Twitter vs. TechRadium

The thing about Twitter that differentiates it from other social media sites, its short form method of messaging large groups of people, didn’t originate with the company. In 2009, a Texas-based company named TechRadium filed a patent lawsuit accusing Twitter of stealing their technology and using it for profit. TechRadium had invented the technology as a way of dispensing emergency information to a large group of people quickly, what they called “Immediate Response Information System.” The lawsuit was eventually settled out of court.

4. Hulu vs. Joost

Hulu was the first television-to-internet video site to find and keep an audience while monetizing, effectively wiping out similar sites, even those that had inspired Hulu in the first place. Hulu’s main advantage was probably the fact that networks like Fox and NBC didn’t license their programs to any other site. In addition, Hulu cut out the download stepInflatable Advertising Can, streamlining the user experience. Joost’s peer-to-peer network, the network content and faster experience that Hulu offered was enough to win over audiences, despite the fact that they had stolen the idea from predecessors like Joost.

5. PayPal vs. Billpoint

Paypal is often compared to other pay platforms, such as Venmo, Stripe, and Google Wallet. However, in terms of original concept, PayPal owes much of its concept and early adopter presence to eBay’s early platform, Billpoint (which eBay acquired in 1999). Paypal’s founders saw that Billpoint lacked protection for both buyers and sellers. They optimized the checkout process. Soon, eBay and Billpoint were working together to try to win over eBay users, who preferred using PayPal despite the fact that it wasn’t integrated into the eBay platform. In 2002, eBay acquired PayPal and phased out BillPoint completely.

Although, business plagiarism typically doesn’t get much publicity, it is on the rise. More and more people are starting their own businesses and are looking for profitable ideas. Take measures to safeguard your business concept and intellectual property.

reasons for plagiarism

Three Main Reasons for Plagiarism in Art

Some people may think that art is very simple – they might become experts on the arts and implement various artistic elements in their everyday lives. Nevertheless, arts are connected by various complicated relationships and ties. One of those connections is plagiarism.

How did it happen that the world of art is full of plagiarism, copying, rewriting and borrowing of ideas from other artists?

I assume that it is all caused by the nature of art itself. And this must be the major reason for plagiarism in art.

Initially, during the times of antiquity, mythology was dominating, and it unified religion, history, culture, philosophy and art. Mythology was syncretic and synthetic, and so were the components of it that later became independent. While after the mythology split into art and religion and philosophy turned out to be autonomous, they always tried to unify again. It can be seen in many synthetic works like, for example, those of the Middle Ages, when art was serving religious purposes, or in the Renaissance, when philosophy of the Renaissance epoch served as the background for the intensive development of the arts and slow decay of the religion.

The same process is a peculiar feature of the world of art. Syncretic, unified, single art – as a purely creative desire and habit – during several centuries split into several intermingled streams:

  • technical art (including sculpture, architecture and painting)
  • and muse art (literature, its genres and the art of eloquence).

Later on, the arts continued fragmentation and separation into smaller streams and crafts, more genres of literature, music, theatre, etc. appeared. The originally singular goddess called Muse turned into three sister muses, and later on into seven goddesses led by Apollo. As all arts had the same origin, they also had specific ties and relationships, like relatives do. The same great-great-great-grandmother art had many descendants who in turn produced many children, thus, during the course of history, literature split into drama, poetry and prose. Poetry developed its own genres, drama formed different theatrical genres, and music separated from poetry and established its own forms. The tree of arts had more and more branches growing in each epoch.

Reasons for plagiarism

1. Need for copying

As all arts had the same original stem and the same original stories, plots and fables, artists tried to re-evaluate them, to rework, rewrite, and reinvestigate them from the perspective of new independent arts. As soon as the new art or genre or artistic approach felt its significance and autonomy, it started reorganising the world around it. On the one hand, the artists discovered new things, pursued new horizons and wrote new plots, stories, and fables. On the other hand, they always referred to the plots and drafts from the original artistic stem source and rewrote them according to the demands and techniques of new genres. The stories were multiplied, copied, and borrowed, and thus added much to the field of plagiarism. This can be called the need for copying – the necessity of arts to fill in the artistic gaps and provide adaptation to the plots that already exist in other arts. In such cases there will be a lot of adaptations within synthetic pairs that developed during the whole history of the arts (music-poetry, poetry-painting, music-architecture, etc.)

2. Inspiration from contemporary arts

As for the second reason for plagiarism, the new works and new topics (if they are more or less successful or interesting, if they have extra potential for adaptations) discovered by new genres will attract attention of the artists working in other genres and arts of the same epoch. Artists will spend time learning the works from contemporary arts and will get inspired for adaptations and copies. Someone will simply write a poem about a phenomenal statue (as many prominent poets did), someone will rediscover the forgotten and almost-lost old drama and rewrite it into a new work, keeping half of the original lines and rhymes. This will also fertilise the plagiarism field and can be called the personal reason of each artist to plagiarise – to learn the works of contemporaries, find something new or long-forgotten and develop it in the manner specific to the given artist who partially copies the original source.

3. Cultural need

The third possible reason for plagiarism in the arts is that of a cultural need. Art history has plenty of masterpieces and genius works of art. One day, they can become outdated and misunderstood or unacceptable for the current culture or generations. Society is not able to forget or ignore them, but it is still not able to accept or understand them in the same way. Then, new explanations or interpretations of the already popular plots and stories are needed. Here, we get new visions of Hamlet on stage (as every century had different types of Hamlets in their theatres, even though they were saying the same lines). Here we have the works of Roman dramatists or Molière, who were eager to rewrite the Ancient Greek dramas and change the concept and dramatic components according to the needs and morals of or Ancien Régime France.

Such plagiarism includes transformation of the stories and their rediscovery, like, for instance, Jorge Luis Borges liked to do: to take a famous story, to look at the plot from another angle and to surprise the reader; half of the text can remain the same, but it will never be accepted or understood in the same way people used to understand it before.

To sum it up, except for personal reasons, when the artists try to experiment with what they have during their lifetime, the plagiarism is caused by:

  • the necessity of the arts to fill in the artistic gaps caused by separation of arts and their desire to unify and become syncretic again
  • and cultural needs for new morals and new adaptation of the existing masterpieces that are not suitable for the new generations, epochs, societies, and cultures.
Who invented copy and paste

Computer History: Who Invented Copy and Paste Command?

Despite the fact that I learned to use a computer before copy and paste was a feature (my parents purchased an Apple II E when I was a kid and I printed out my first papers on a dot matrix), I cannot imagine life without it.

My beloved CTRL X, CTRL V and CTRL C are an essential part of my writing process. For example, I am accustomed to including whatever texts I’m responding to (such as instructions for an assignment or a detailed email) in a working document until I’m finished to minimize errors and misunderstandings.

But, like so many things that were pretty much handed to me without my having to give it much thought, I never really thought about the origins of Cut, Copy, and Paste. Since I first used it on a family computer when we eventually upgraded to a Macintosh desktop, I (wrongly) associate it with Apple. The person most widely credited with Copy and Paste, Larry Tesler, did work for Apple starting in 1980. However, he created the command while working for Xerox Palo Alto Research Center at some point between 1973-1976 [Tweet this]

He was developing GYPSY, the first document preparation system.

Larry Tesler

But there is always more to this type of story, right? The concept was inspired by the pre-Computer-Age practice in which manuscript editors literally cut out sections of text (usually with editing scissors) and then paste them onto a new page. Although this method decreased in popularity with the advent of the photocopier, it was still popular enough in the 1980s that the term “cut-and-paste” was a great way to introduce the computer command to its users.

For most early adopters, the earliest they recall using this type of computer system command (being able to duplicate and move sections of text with the cursor) is in WordStar, introduced in 1978, or WordPerfect, a program that enjoyed widespread popularity from the late 70s all the way into the early 2000s.

What’s particularly interesting to me about this origin story is that it’s almost the reverse of the way technology advancements are credited today. Larry Tesler and Tim Mott may have originated the concept of Cut and Paste in Palo Alto in the mid-70s, but it wasn’t popularized until programs like WordPerfect put it into widespread use. Today, the names that are most often used in conjunction with the beginnings of a certain technology are most often tied directly to its success. For example, in perhaps the most popular movie about social technology thus far,  The Social Network, Jesse Eisenberg’s Mark Zuckerberg says to to the Winklevoss Twins: “If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you’d have invented Facebook,” which feels true in this instance, too (even if it also feels unfair). If having an idea makes you the inventor, than this discussion should start much further back than who founded Facebook; what about MySpace and Friendster?

Right now, Larry Tesler is considered the inventor of Cut and Paste technology in the industry’s very brief history. However, I wonder if time and our preference for crediting those who managed to monetize an invention will eventually supplant his name with the company that first popularized the function with WordPerfect, Satellite Software International (SSI)?

disney recycled animation

Disney Recycled Animation: Did Disney Self-Plagiarize?

Disney plots and characters have been invading popular culture since the 1930s. Most of us like Disney movies to a greater or a lesser extent. It seems to be next to impossible to erase all those amazing scenes that we remember from a young age. Sometimes a sense of nostalgia forces us to find some Disney cartoons and have a movie marathon taking us back to our childhood memories.

Although we all watched movies when we were kids, scarcely anyone noticed they had many recycled moments. I doubt that anyone could notice that Princess Aurora and Prince Philip dance in the same way as Belle and the Beast. And they do dance in the same way! And it’s not a coincidence.

Recently a two-part video hit the Internet. It was not a bombshell, of course. Similar videos appeared in 2009. However, the fact is that Disney copies and reuses its own footage.

The fragments taken from these 14 cartoons were compared: Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Robin Hood, Snow White, The Jungle Book, The AristoCats, Bambi, Alice in Wonderland, The Fox and the Hound, The Sword in the Stone, 101 Dalmatians, Cinderella, Pinocchio, and Winnie the Pooh. Coincidences were quite obvious. And it’s possible that the list isn’t complete.

Different characters dance, clap hands and gesticulate in the same manner. Characters just mimic each other. This recycling of content was made with the purpose of saving resources. But is it a good excuse? Or maybe we are dealing with self-plagiarism?

Self-plagiarism is usually a subconscious thing. In the Disney case, repetition is surely not accidental. To better understand the point, just view these two videos and learn all the details firsthand.

Walt Disney Recycled Animation Scenes #1

Walt Disney Recycled Animation Scenes #2

plagiarism in art

Plagiarism in Art and Its Literary Origins

Plagiarism is a negative phenomenon, however, it is a widespread problem. In the arts, plagiarism often shows up under different names and terms, such as intermediality, synthesis of arts, fusion of arts, copying, and adaptation.

Many generations of artists did similar things – they enjoyed the works of their fellow artists, sought inspiration in the works of others and transformed the artwork into something new. Other generations would come and criticize the masterpieces of the previous epochs, they would try to prove that they were not that perfect and would rewrite and re-establish the already-developed plots and stories. Most of them would adapt and copy, rework the stories that dated back to previous centuries, which in their turn would be based on the works of the older times, and, in fact, the copying paradigm would go deeper and deeper, to the times of Ancient Greece, pharaohs of Ancient Egypt or the tower of Babylon.

The most obvious thing for plagiarism and adaptation researchers is that, first and foremost, there was mythology, the system of myths that surrounded our ancestors everywhere in their everyday lives. Then, as time passed, the mythological world was split into religion, philosophy and the arts. They were and still are related to a certain extent, were often mixed as they, all together, formed the culture of every region of the world.

As more time passed, the world of the arts was also split into many streams and types, such as sculpture, theatre, literature, painting, stone carving and many others. As all of the arts initially came from the same cultural-mythological source, there appeared some strong ties and connections between the arts, they established the constant process of unification-separation. This, let us call it ‘Ping Pong game of arts,’ formed the current cultural context we are all living in. All of the arts established some contradictory and fruitful relations, and throughout the centuries and millennia strong ties were created between music and literature, music and painting, theatre and literature, music and architecture.

Every cultural epoch had its own artistic trend, thus, for instance, the Renaissance was fond of painting. Painters became the most influential artists who re-assessed the masterpieces of the previous epochs and who discovered many new things dating back to antiquity. At the same time, literature opened new concepts and suggested many new solutions that would be examined, discovered and used for the next eight centuries.

The previous epoch, the Middle Ages, was very much fond of architecture – in a practical sense, but in all the medieval theories and artistic concepts, music was believed to be the true language of God and Christianity. Music was sought everywhere: All the gothic cathedrals and medieval sacral buildings were built according to the musical canons. The whole building was believed to be an ideal musical set, a divine musical composition on Earth. You can read very good descriptions of music in the medieval buildings even in many literary works, such as, for instance, The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo, 1831. In this literary piece, however, the author analyses the cathedral’s music from the perspective of the Romanticism epoch, which is a bit different from the ideas of the Middle Ages.

As one can see, every epoch had very specific ties established between different arts, the major unification-separation pairs being:

  • music and architecture in the Middle Ages
  • painting and literature in the Renaissance
  • theatre, opera, and landscape architecture and many other synthetic genres for Mannerism, Baroque, Rococo and Classicism (artistic 17th century)
  • literature and music synthesis for Romanticism
  • painting and literature for Realism, turn of the centuries, Modernism
  • and literature and cinema for Postmodernism epoch.

Each artistic era had a dominant synthetic genre and, in most cases, it was based on literature.

Literary Origins of Plagiarism

“Why literature?” you ask? The answer is rather simple.

Sculptures and buildings may be destroyed and ruined, musical notes and paintings can burn or fade away, while the memory of poets and singers, manuscripts, stone books and hieroglyphs may keep the poems and stories written thousands of years ago. Literature can keep detailed and very poetic descriptions of other artworks.

It serves as the memory of the epoch, of the nation, of the whole cultural landscape. Even if the original source (a statue of Praxiteles’s Zeus in Olympia, for instance) is destroyed, descriptions and notes based on the first literary adaptations could have survived and inspired the next generations of artists who described the statue again and again in their songs, poems, paintings and bas-reliefs, even though they have never seen a stone left after the original Zeus of Olympia.

Starting from antiquity, when theatre was the most popular art among ordinary people, literature serves as the memory of arts and cultures. Even if the artistic epoch chooses another medium for its masterpieces, the literary works will follow this medium, they will go hand in hand with it, they will be involved into the creative process to a certain limit. Thus, we have many works of literature describing, copying, retelling and commenting upon other works of art in general and other literary pieces in particular.

At first, there were words, ideas, discussions, explanations and descriptions, and later there were real actions, when an artist tried to transfer the ideas from words into metal, paint strokes, musical notes, rhymes and other artistic means. Literature copied and fixed every other art and therefore became the original source for plagiarism, intermediality, and artistic copying.

storytelling in the classroom

The Power of Storytelling in the Classroom

One of the earliest forms of communication in youngsters is the recollection of something that happened. It may be encouraged out of them with a simple “Tell me what happened,” or put to the imagination with, “What do you think will happen next?”.

In any case, we know storytelling is as old as the community campfireIt is the basis of legends, myths and folktales. It is the heart of the ancient saga and in some cultures, the only form of history put to memory for future generations.

The importance of storytelling

Being able to recount events, in chronological order and with the necessary details is important to reading development. Sequencing, cause and effect, problem solving can all be found in the telling of a story. Young learners take information and it becomes the beginning of the written word. They see the words in print in their picture books, and soon make the connection that the oral story can become a record on the page. Reading and listening to the stories of others happens early in our children’s education.

How to bring storytelling to the classroom

When my Grade 3 students were studying “Medieval Society”, I told them we would be writing journals. There were a few groans in the group as I expected. I knew that personal journal writing was a part of their previous two school grades. They wrote how they spent their weekend, or My Best Birthday Present in sentences that developed their narrative skills. The ordinary lives of middle class Canadian children soon became drivel and many lost interest and some saw writing as a chore.

To warm up their imaginations for the journal writing, I introduced the writing through storytelling. “Let’s talk about the life of a page in the Lord’s castle!” I suggested. I helped up a cardboard bound collection of lined paper with a picture of a boy about nine dressed as a medieval page. “What would he eat for breakfast?” The suggestions were offered, and we continued together as a group orally creating “A Day in the Life of a Page” as group. Pulling in the information they had been learning about castle life, the hierarchy of society, food, clothing, education, entertainment, we soon had a wonderful story. The students were eager to work on the individual booklets I passed out with covers depicting other members of a medieval community. The assignment was to write about one day and to leave it hanging. The next day the students were randomly given a journal from the pile and continued the story for the next day. It was an immensely popular activity and duplicated by other teachers for units on Native Studies, Ancient Egypt, Pioneers and more.

Some days we began the writing time with someone reading a journal aloud to see how the story progressed. In other points in the school year I used this same technique to have students tell stories from different perspectives. 

Another favourite was to randomly choose from the three story jars. The jars had collections of: characters, places, and events and the novelty of the stories produced some wonderful tales. I recall  – clown, moon, job interview, was a funny depiction of a clown struggling with gravity and trying to secure a job at the moon’s first restaurant! Storytelling was an anticipated event in my classroom and even the shyest of students developed public speaking skills, better articulation, and a little drama.

Storytelling and Story Reading

Storytelling is quite different from story reading. With reading there is far more structure to the language. It is actually refined and sentences are complete, usually free of grammatical errors, colloquialisms and expression has to rely on punctuation to hit its mark. The read uses imagination to fill in the nuances of the narrative.

Storytelling doesn’t rely on these conventions to the same degree. Body language can play a role. Expression can come from the way dialogue is re-enacted or the tone of voice used to depict emotions. It may be said that our love of drama, especially today’s love of motives and TV shows, is rooted in our love of listening to, or watching a story being told or portrayed.

Listening to a story takes less of a commitment than reading one. But in both cases, there are the benefits of learning about our world around us, how people interact, and how problems are solved. Storytelling never gets old.

Ways to encourage storytelling in the classroom

In the classroom, there are plenty of ways to encourage more storytelling. Thinking beyond having one storyteller in front of the room is a good step, and particularly encouraging for reluctant sharers. Small groups in casual settings work well. I had a Grade One teacher who had a restaurant setting in her reading corner just for this purpose. A child would “retell” a favourite picture book to friends over “coffee”. The same teacher had children “retell” a book or an original story into a tape recorder, and she would listen later.

But my favourite technique was a Grade Six teacher who was getting tired of the over-use of the word “like” in his students’ speech. He made a favourite exercise of having students choose a random topic and speak about it, or tell a story around it, for one minute without using the dread “like”! It was tough for some but overall even casual speech improved.

Finally I gave a great tip to a parent once whose child reluctantly talked about anything related to school. I suggested they hold off on the typical, “How was your day?” being asked daily at pick up time. Try replacing it at dinnertime “What was your art assignment today,” or “What did you do with all that snow at recess?” I learned that the shy boy started telling about his studies, his lessons, his teachers and soon his friends, his frustrations and his successes when the storytelling was more open ended rather than a report of his day.

lifelong learner

The Importance of Being a Lifelong Learner

Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.  If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

The world as we know it is changing every day, and it is all because of emerging technologies and innovations. It can be hard to keep up with all the changes. Lifelong learning is what is actually required for success in today’s information age.

Let’s suppose you’ve already earned a degree and graduated from a university. You have a good job, and you’re absolutely satisfied with your life. But it’s not over yet. If you feel like learning something new, something you’ve never tried before, but dreamt about for your whole life, you might be thinking, “Should I go back to school?”

Lifelong learning means taking offline or online courses, reading and watching something educational, conducting research, joining study groups, or teaching. It can be anything.

But you need to have one thing. That one thing is self-motivation. It’s the key factor influencing your success in lifelong learning. So, what can motivate you best? And how can you become a lifelong learner? Take a look at the suggestions below.

There are different reasons to never stop learning:

1. Self-esteem grows high

The more things we learn from the outside world, the more we understand about ourselves. Imagine: You have always wanted to study psychology and just shelved the idea till better times. Then, you finally take an online course in psychology and find the information to be fascinating. Congratulations! You did it! You feel like a winner, because you made an effort and fulfilled one of your dreams.

2. More opportunities open

The wide range of interests and skills obviously give you more chances to succeed in life. You become an interesting person to talk to. You grow professionally. If you’re searching for a job, you’ll have a much higher chance of finding it quickly. Is there an interviewer who doesn’t like smart candidates who have a thirst for knowledge? Employers definitely appreciate the ability to learn.

3. Your brain stays sharp

No matter how old you are, it’s never too late to start learning. Even when you’re 80. Pamela Greenwood, a cognitive neuroscientist, says:

 There appears to be good evidence that cognitive training has strong and durable benefits for cognitive functioning in older people. Cognitive training appears to change the brain structure and physiology, and neurogenesis may play a role in the benefits of new learning.

What should you do to keep on learning:

1. Read. Daily reading helps you stay aware of what’s going on around you. Reading is available any time, just enjoy it.

2. Research. It’s a good idea to conduct your own research. Once you see something worth investigation, don’t put it off.

3. Take a course. Online courses are available on Coursera, EdX, Open Culture, and others. These websites have user-friendly navigation that makes it easy to find useful and interesting courses that fit your needs.

4. Observe. So many amazing things are happening! Observation is a good trait that is useful regardless of your occupation.

5. Join a study group. Studying in a group is more effective than studying alone. Group work motivates  members to take part in friendly competition. Besides, you can brainstorm and find solutions together. And, of course, you can count on your peers’ help.

6. Teach. The best way to improve your knowledge is to teach somebody else. You revise material helping others.

Top 3 excuses not to be a lifelong learner

  • No time. I’m too busy to start learning something new. I hardly find time for my family.
  • No money. Education costs money. Big money.
  • No access. I’d like to study at Harvard. But I live in Bratislava.

He who cannot dance claims the floor is uneven. These three excuses are quite unreasonable. You can easily adapt studying to fit your schedule and allow a few hours each week to take a course or read materials. In fact, half of the available materials are free, and you can enjoy online courses and start studying remotely. So, now that these excuses have been rejected, it’s time to learn!

And one last thing: We all realize it’s vitally important to learn. However, not everyone knows how, exactly, it should be done. Before doing anything, you should learn how to actually learn. For instance, Coursera suggest a course on this subject, where online learners get to know more about avoiding procrastination, developing one’s potential and learning different techniques of effective memorization.

Share the tips on how to become a lifelong learner on Twitter or Facebook by using the super-easy share buttons on the left and check out our recent blog post about time management tips.