--personal, unaided discovery
The first approach can provide huge insights but consumes a lot of time, can result in many failed attemptes, and can miss a lot of potentially beneficial informational topics.
The second approach gives us access to a lot more topics, but is often less effective, especially if you happen to give the instructor something less than your best attention.
An article falls into the "instructor" category. An article is no more valuable than the focused attention you give it. For more guidance on how to capture the benefits of an article, please read "How to Benefit from Reading an Article."