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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Discovery technology

<o not know how computers work.

Or the Internet, really.  I could probably be a little more accurate than former Senator Ted Stevens, who described it as a “series of tubes,” but that’s not much to start from.

Every day I use things for which I have little knowledge.  I turn on my digital alarm clock, I text on my phone, I use my OneCard to get into Burton.  There are probably hundreds of things I use and do every day that I don’t understand.  These technologies are all around me, covering my dorm and occupying my mind, and I definitely could not get by at this point without them.

I go so far as to say that most people are like me.  They drive to work, swallow their Advil, and don their reading glasses without really knowing how these instruments operate.  Maybe they know bits and pieces, but the whole story eludes them.  They are too busy using these wonderful products to give any thought as to why or how they function – as long as the coffee makes them less tired, they’re sold. As long as the tools they need get the job done, they will get on with their own job.

Is this bad?  Should we know how these machines get their work done?

I think so.  This is not to say that many a computer guru probably rolled his eyes at my first comment, but I doubt that same guru could tell me how everything he uses works.

At the root of this issue is a refusal to admit lack of knowledge.  People – particularly, I would argue, people at a place like Carleton where intelligence and comprehension is assumed – don’t want to admit that they are wrong.  It’s an understandable feeling spurred on by social pressure that we’ve all had to deal with, but it’s something that we need to get rid of.  What’s the point of college if you’ve put yourself under the impression that you know everything?  College gives you the academic setup to gain knowledge about life, and there is no shame in saying that you aren’t quite there yet.  I certainly am not. 

With the lack of classes on how buildings are made to withstand hurricanes and how headphones cancel out sound for those of us who do not want to go into engineering, we must take up the responsibility ourselves and learn about the magnificent creations we have been bestowed with by former generations.  I try not to preach; my goal with this article is to encourage myself to branch out and learn about the things I use every day as much as it is to convince you to do the same.

So now, I will finish this piece and submit my work. Somehow. 

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