Saturday, May 12, 2007


My friend Bruce Frank asked me to help his wife learn about computers. Here's what I wrote him:

1. You married a smart woman. She's raised smart kids (with your help.)
2. Technology is like a hammer - it's just a tool. Nobody is hammer dumb. She's not technology dumb.
3. On the other hand, I don't want to teach hammer, I want to teach carpentry.
4. Here's how you learn this stuff:

1. Decide on something you want to do (like build a cabinet if it was carpentry.)
2. Try on your own - use available systems (like Help, Web, friends) to learn how.
3. Get so frustrated you're about to shoot yourself
4. Get the answer from an expert (like me)

Sometimes people go to courses. They spend $300 and all they've done is share a classroom with other people who don't know anything, to learn stuff they don't care about. The $300 DID get them commitment to learn. If it takes $300 to get Linda to decide she wants to learn this stuff and take the time to do it, have her give ME $300 - we'll both be better off :)

#2 above will expose you to lots of stuff you don't need to know now, but will come in handy later. This is like foraging for knowledge. Mapping the landscape of knowledge is a critical skill.

#3 is important since the relief in #4 is made sweeter proportional to how hard you've tried. It also means you spend more time on #2 doing it yourself.