RE: Have We Entered a Post-Literate Technological Age?

Subject: RE: Have We Entered a Post-Literate Technological Age?
From: "Boudreaux, Madelyn (GE Healthcare, consultant)" <MadelynBoudreaux -at- ge -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 20 Aug 2009 11:54:14 -0400

john rosberg wrote:
>Without meaning to offend anyone, I doubt if most folks could
>describe a failure in the water delivery system in their house

I agree that most people wouldn't try, but they *could* do so. And
here's the justification:

If you call the plumber and say, "There's something wrong, come fix it,"
you will pay, by the hour, for him/her to troubleshoot: Is it an input
or an output failure (water not running, or toilet not flushing)? Where
is the failure happening? Etc.

On the other hand, if you flush the toilet and it overflows, AND the
kitchen sink isn't draining, but the other bathroom is fine, and you
tell the plumber this on arrival, he/she will say, "Ok, let's go to the
first point where those two things join, and figure it out from there.
If they all join at the same point, that tells you one thing (two
separate stoppages). Otherwise, there's a good chance that the stoppage
is past that joint. You just saved an hour's worth of plumbing time, and
that's about $65.

The same is true of cars ("it's just broken," is a chance for the
mechanic to extract a new car's worth of work from you, which is why
women have historically been mistreated by mechanics) and your internet

In other words, being cognizant of where the issue may be, and what the
actual problem is, can save you time AND money. That's no different in
the computer age than it was the first time someone's spear didn't
pierce a mammoth pelt and someone else had to figure out if it was a
user error of if the spear point had just gone dull.

Troubleshooting a problem -- ANY problem -- if the ultimate
generalization of abilities, and something we start learning along with
crawling. It doesn't stop the second we can afford to pay that $65 extra
to the plumber to tell us what we should have already figured out.

Other technocratic shaman may make their money on keeping the population
dumb, but this is why our job is so awesome: we don't get paid to
control or hide info. We get paid to give people the tools to
troubleshoot and solve the easy issues, and to know when to turn to the


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Re: Have We Entered a Post-Literate Technological Age?: From: john rosberg

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