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JeanPaulSartre's avatar

Do you think that storing our knowledge via external means (paper, computers, DVDs, etc.) is as effective as passing it from one person to another?

Asked by JeanPaulSartre (5779points) March 2nd, 2010

To be clear, I’m referring not to the storage of stories or history, but to the passage of skills. I’ll continue on my train today I as a guitarist, can learn lots of things from the internet, but at some point I needed a human teacher to guide me. This seems to be true of most things, or advanced schools would be unnecessary. There are things that a book or even an advanced computer with video and everything just can’t seem to convey. What are your thoughts?

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40 Answers

buck19delta's avatar

i agree with you on this, in both ways..
i think its absolutely neccessary to use media to store information. the huge amount of information is impossible for people to remember, computers and books etc, can easily be used to research a skill…...... but when the rubber meets the road, you either need a teacher, ( such as playing a instrument), or a lot of trial and error.. it can be done alone, just takes a lot more time.

mattbrowne's avatar

Depends. In knowledge management passing on (trivial) explicit knowledge by external means is more efficient. It’s different for tacit knowledge. In some cases people need to talk. It’s the most effective way when trying to transfer such knowledge.

wundayatta's avatar

A computer can’t show you what to do, except with video. It can’t be interactive, so you can’t ask it to show you things you don’t understand. You can only go back and forth on the video. So no, getting information from a computer is not as good as getting it from a human.

On the other hand, a computer can do it over and over with no effort. So people can learn the basics from a computer and save the fine points for people, thus reducing the amount of time live people spend doing repetitive tasks.

janbb's avatar

This is a great question. I think distance education can be a great supplement to in-person interaction and often very effective but that we are losing something of what we need to be fully human as we move more and more away from personal instruction and interaction. I am feeling frustrated at the moment with Fluther itself because of the lack of clarity at times in people’s responses and my inability to read their expressions and emotions.

Trillian's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre Is this in reference to your other question?
The trouble with the printed page and recorded information is that it leaves no allowances for questions and clarification. In addition, language itself is so fluid that individual meanings ascribed to words change over time and over different people.
A word is, after, a symbol of the thing. But how effectively can a symbol convey an abstract?
I think that your printed pages and recorded devices are a starting point.
If what you reference is a time when a new generation finds the information and is newly learning it without the benefit of an experienced instructor, then it will still require trial and error, but this is not inand of itself a bad thing.
We humans require adversity for growth, and we need to learn things on our own for the lessons to be any good, so in a sense, your seeming desire to pass down to future generations all that we know is fundamentally flawed.
They will need to discover their own truths, and perhaps the best way for us to aid in that endeavor is to just pass down the seeds of knowledge and allow them to plant them in the soil of their own consciousness. What will grow may be different from what we know now, but will certainly be relevant and applicable for them. Knowledge is a prize to be sought and striven for. It cannot be simply given.

marinelife's avatar

Well, if skills were just passed person-to-person, information would be lost each time. There needs to be impartial and complete storage devices to hold the full record on things.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@janbb I wonder if it’s the emotion that’s lacking in some way… particularly that is so important in much of learning. I can’t imagine learning guitar from a machine that can’t comprehend the beauty of it.

Cruiser's avatar

Learning from a master of your art is a sure way of learning and art. But you are only learning what they know and are able to teach by a form of imitation. True art is the ability to be original…to innovate and come up with new things otherwise you are simply copying someones else’s achievements. Something artists I know bristle at and why we have copyright laws.

davidbetterman's avatar

No. Book smarts is/are good to a point, but then practice with experienced pros gives you a solid basis for remembering for the rest of your life.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@Trillian Some good points – the abstract is why I’m using music as my example – it’s not just notes on a page – that’s easy stuff. It got me thinking that we need all these “Rosetta stones”, so to speak to translate even from out own language, written not even 250 years ago… things change very fast. And of course you are correct that passing all knowledge is not what needs to be done, but it seems silly not to find a way to pass on what is the most important to us… which is why some things go on and on it seems.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@Cruiser Very true – often times a student’s work resembles their master’s… really for a long time… often until their master is no longer around. Interesting. And of course some people don’t have that talent… originality is rare.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@Cruiser And… can a computer teach us to be original? I think not.

janbb's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre Yes, I think there are a lot of skills we can learn from machines and videos and as @marinelife says, we need documents and records to transmit the vast body of knowledge we have. But there is a spark of recognition and affirmation in interpersonal teaching that is missing in distance ed. Here at the reference desk, we have instituted IM reference service. It is useful for short questions, but for a lengthy question, I would much rather work with the person in person or even on the phone so I can read their reactions and know if they are getting what I am saying.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@marinelife Oh, definitely… we all know what word of mouth story telling can lead to…

davidbetterman's avatar

Of course, there are those people who need neither recording devices noe teachers to learn new skills and perform them as if they had been trained.

This is what accessing the Akashic records is all about.

And some people can simply pick up new information and ideas from out of thin air. They are often referred to as Geniuses.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@davidbetterman I have all sorts of theories about ideas being grabbed from the air, but that will border on the unexplainable, and hopefully wouldn’t pass the scrutiny of this group!

davidbetterman's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre I learned years ago in a philosophy class that a million people in agreement neither makes them right, nor the agreed upon idea true. What is inexplicable to the masses is often quite true and whether it passes scrutiny is completely meaningless.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I want my surgeon to study many hours with printed media (books, DVD, video) AND be tutored by another surgeon before he starts doing actual procedures. It is more efficient to learn using both methods.
It is wasteful to have a top notch surgeon teach a resident basic anatomy. But it is very useful to have the surgeon teach a special technique.
One size does not fit all.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@davidbetterman True. But this group, or at least those that I’d pay attention too, hopefully is guided by some logic. Those with “hidden” knowledge are pretty consistently burned at the stake in some way or another. Knowledge means taking away of power from those that have it, which either ends in revolution or in massacre… or both.

ragingloli's avatar

It is superior. Not only can we transmit more detailed information in a smaller time frame, but oral transmission of information invariably leads to corruption of the message, a problem that would be vanquished by artificial transmission methods.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@ragingloli Even things written literally in stone can be corrupted or misinterpreted though.

ragingloli's avatar

The point is, if I store the message “I have been raped by 6 dwarfes” on a cd, it will still be “I have been raped by 6 dwarfes.” after 1 month. If I transmit it orally, it is likely the message has mutated into “I have been raped, beaten and eaten by 500 robot dwarfes armed with chainsawswords in the pale moonlight.”

partyparty's avatar

@worriedguy I agree with you totally. Then we all get the best of both worlds

liminal's avatar

@ragingloli Certainly face to face communication is different than oral transmission. Face to face allows for clarifying and immediate correction of a “corrupted message”.

I read stuff on fluther all the time that I might consider differently if I were drinking a cup of tea with the person saying it. Like right now, I am distracted by your artificial transmission of “dwarfes” I am thinking to myself “Isn’t it dwarves? wait maybe it is dwarfs? wait maybe it is dwarfes.” If we were sitting having tea such a question may never come up, but if it did you could quickly correct me with your chainsawsword.

janbb's avatar

@liminal I agree. The nuance is often missing in written transmission.

liminal's avatar

I do think it is just as effective. I would even go so far as to say that it is what keeps us aware of the mutability of knowledge.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Both ways. Passing on skill and knowledge to those interested as well as arciving esoteric skills that might prove usefull in a greatly change world of tomorrow. With limited energy resources, many of these skills may undergo a renaissance in future generations. The ability to produce durable, repairable products. The skills required to construct a wood or methane fired boiler to generated village-level electric power. Sustainable agriculture, food preservation without refrigeration, the ability to built a comfortable home with only basic hand tools, etc.

PacificToast's avatar

How would one learn chemistry if not firsthand, in the lab, with chemicals and test tubes? Math also, if you learned it off of a video or book, and you get the wrong answer, you must find your own mistake, if you fail to do that, you learn it the wrong way and fail even further. Certain skills must have the human supervision so as to properly develop the skill, such as in your guitar example.

lazydaisy's avatar

If I consider the theory of multiple intelligences, it would lead me to believe that ‘book learning’ would be enough for some people and not appropriate for others.

Ria777's avatar

it varies from person to person, because we have different ways of learning.

for physical things, I think face-to-face learning works better. for writing (something that interests me a lot) which has to do with training your mind, a book works as well as probably better. for things which take five to ten minutes to learn then I think a book would also suffice.

the100thmonkey's avatar

The one thing that a stored tutor can’t do (currently) is give feedback. That’s pretty much all a teacher actually does anyway, apart from organise information.

flo's avatar

I agree. There no replacement for human guidance.

bea2345's avatar

We need both types of information – one kind is stored in documents and the other kind is transmitted orally. Documents enable the exchange of data from one generation to the next. But there is more to learning than what is in books. It is the teacher that relates the simple absorption of information to the business of creating knowledge. One can learn needlework, for example, from a textbook: but some of its skills cannot be learned from books. Like always having a thimble: I was never taught how to use a thimble and to this day I cannot use one. It has impacted adversely on my sewing skills.

Ltryptophan's avatar

Yeah, but I think there is something to a wild culture. An american indian adolescent from the seventeenth century would probably last way longer in a survival situation then many of us super informed 21st century types. Since we can get thrown into that situation at any given moment which culture is better off?

YARNLADY's avatar

I had a hard time accepting your idea when I was in high schol science. We were required to perform so-called ‘experiements’ to prove various hypotheses. I thought they were just exercises in futility, because the proofs already existed. My father explained to me that until we actually experienced the same revelations the early scientists experienced, we couldn’t ‘know’ the subject.

Dad used himself as an example. His parents and brothers were all musically inclined. He learned all the mechanical skills necessary to play the piano and the french horn, but he could never fully ‘create’ music. He believed that has to be an inborn talent.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@YARNLADY Agree with you and your father on that. I can play the music as wriiten on the page at the correct tempo, but it is no more artistic than rebuilding an engine following the tech manual.

bunnygrl's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land the ability to play is a genuine talent in itself though, and one that many people, including myself would LOVE to have but don’t, you have a gift don’t doubt it <hugs>

I agree with my fellow jellies, being taught by a real person is so much better than reading a book/watching a dvd etc. I could have learned how to make soup from reading a recipe book, but in my head I have all of these wonderful memories of watching my Gran make soup. The smells from wonderful homemade stocks, the colours of the vegetables while she chopped them and chatted away to me. The smell of chicken soup, as only she could make it, with rice because she knew I loved it so much, coming from the kitchen when i was ill, and knowing that she’d be upstairs soon with some soup and a hug. I make soup now, but when I cook it I think of her, and the stories she told me while she cooked. Can’t get that from a book.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Everyone has different learning styles , that is why you might need a teacher in person to assist you.

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