One of the main suggestions given by the photographers is to take a lot of pictures (obviously!) and to get them commented upon by others (like your friends and family). The idea is that like any other art (and also software code), the person who is creating it might be so stuck up on the concept and effort involved in creating it that he might forget to see how it appears to other people.
As photography is a visual art that is intended for consumption by the general public, it pays to get opinions and critiques of one's photos by others. Obviously, it would be great if your photos are critiqued by professionals, but in case you cannot get hold of any, comments by your friends and family might go a long way in honing your skills.
That said, the sections shown on the side were sent by me to my friends and family as a part of this experiment. The pictures were not taken by me (in fact, many were taken by serious amateurs), but it really helped me understand the concepts I read.
So read, have fun, and let me know if you have any questions or comments.