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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Jun 2009

    Default What do you know?

    I wonder how much does anyone know about the technology they are using on a routine basis, the car they drive, bike they ride, bus or train they ride, the mobiles, laptops, computers or phones they use, any other hardware around the house, even low tech hardware, the common pen and paper, do you know much about it? Do you ever wonder or are you satisfied with intuitive understands and just enough knowledge to operate and utilise whatever it is?

    Do you think your view is a common one and what do you think the personal or social consequences of it are?
    All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.
    Chapter IV, p. 448. - Adam Smith, Book 3, The Wealth of Nations

    whether or not you credit psychoanalysis itself, the fact remains that we all must, to the greatest extent possible, understand one another's minds as our own; the very survival of humanity has always depended on it. - Open Culture

  2. #2
    jump sleuthiness's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    54 so/sp
    IEI Ni


    The scope of my understanding extends to the notion that being a young blind woman riding public transit will nearly always lead to social consequences (not all good).

    thinking of you

  3. #3
    Senior Member Ism's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008



    This is usually my response because questions like this are so frustrating and open-ended. What do I know? That depends. What do you mean by knowing? Experience? Wisdom? To what extent do I have to know something before I really know it?

    Anyways, just so we're clear, I'm only frustrated with all the possibilities this question presents. Not the quality of the question.

  4. #4


    I think knowledge of chemistry proves to be the most practical and fundamental of ways to understand those things. That said, I don't have very much knowledge compared to an engineer, but would probably enjoy understanding such things since it gives my intuition more to work with.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Tabula's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    9w1 so/sx


    Simple answer: not much.

    I recently bought a new car. I spent months researching, and incidentally learned a bit about how cars work (again, not much). Barring any spontaneous curiosities that prompt a quick googlin', I usually only know and want to know as much as is necessary for me to use whatever it is, or attain a satisfactory (by my definition) conception/understanding of something.

    I imagine mine is a rather common view. Any personal implications I can see revolve around ignorance, I guess; for as much time as I may save going about it the way I do, I lose more in the way of knowledge. It doesn't bother me unless it regards some thing or idea I value, in which case, I would want to learn more anyway.

  6. #6


    It's hard to approach this non-arrogantly.

    I make it a point to know as much as I can. I'm pretty good at identifying opportunity for growing my knowledge, but I don't think I actively seek it out. I'm more of an opportunist, I suppose. I worked with my father as a service writer at an auto shop. Instead of just telling the customer they need X, Y, and Z to get back on the road, I made it a point to learn why the part failed, what the part does, how the mechanic knows this will fix the vehicle, all kinds of things related to the problem. From it, I feel I really grew my knowledge of automobiles during that period of my life.

    I have an incredibly visual/spatial mind. When I think, I can 'see' quite clearly in my mind the mechanics behind the functional workings of things. When I was young and I looked at the gearing of a bicycle, it was literally like looking at another language; I might as well have been translating Greek. Now that I'm adept in my mechanical understanding, I'm able to isolate each part and identify its purpose as a functional whole. The concept expands to just about anything I try to digest. I tend to think in numbers and geometry, and it greatly benefits my understanding of the universe.

    As a result of this talent, however, I feel I am pretty dense in my understanding at times. If my mind conjures a picture wherein I see no immediate flaws, it's really hard to rework the picture to compensate for what I'm missing. I'd liken it to making a wrong turn down a one-way street. And again, I don't really apply it towards anything worthwhile.


  7. #7
    Senior Member INTP's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    5w4 sx


    as an Ti dom my #1 aim is to understand things, so yes i know quite a bit of stuff on pretty wide range of topics. i dont think its common to be as interested on understanding all sorts of irrelevant stuff as i am.
    "Where wisdom reigns, there is no conflict between thinking and feeling."
    — C.G. Jung


  8. #8
    likes this gromit's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010


    I understand the mechanisms of my bicycle fairly well. It helps because you can SEE all the components, how they fit together and interact. No chassis. Spin the pedals, chain moves, pulls gears, wheels spin. Squeeze the brake lever, brake wire moves, pulls the brake pad mechanism, squeezes against the wheel, slows down the wheel. And so forth.

    As for my laptop, I do not understand what's going on inside that well at all, and to be honest it doesn't interest me as much somehow.

    I am not sure if this is common or not. Probably not so common, at least most of my friends just buy a new lamp/electric fan/whatever when it breaks, instead of examining the entire system, evaluating how it ought to work, identifying broken components, doing research, attempting to find solutions, etc.

    I do come from a line of tinkerers/repairmen though.

  9. #9
    Honor Thy Inferior Such Irony's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    5w6 sp/so
    LII Ne


    When I buy something like a computer, DVD player, etc. I could usually care less about how it works mechanically. I just want it to do what I want it to do.

    However, I am often interested in the greater societal issues of things. Like how certain technologies are taking over the world and the potential consequences for that.
    5w6 or 9w1 sp/so/sx, I think
    Neutral Good

  10. #10
    Post Human Post Qlip's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    4w5 sp/sx


    I understand a lot of the concepts involved on how daily things work. I've tinkered with engines, electronics, programming, general fabrication, engineering, textiles, woodwork. I always want to know 'what's under the hood'. My understanding of chemistry is poor, though.

    But even so, I'm sure just as most who drive can't fix their cars, being an auto mechanic doesn't make you a driver, either.

    I think the complexity of everything in day to day life tends to make consumers believe that things are more or less created by magic, completely beyond the ken of 'ordinary folk', to create, fix or modify.

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