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#009 Understanding the Elevator

posted 20 Aug 2017, 03:36 by Aaron Brownlee   [ updated 20 Aug 2017, 06:34 ]
I thought up a good analogy today of how understanding is different to knowing.

Let's say you are telling someone how to get people off of a floor in the case of an emergency. To do this they must control the elevator using a panel of 4 buttons in the control room. You tell them they need to press the Red Button, wait 10 seconds, press the Yellow button, wait at least 10 seconds, press the blue button, then immediately the green button, then wait 10 more seconds, and finally the yellow button again. 

If you were to explain it like this, they would maybe take a minute, but they would find some shorthand like R10Y10BG10Y and be able to know how to do it. The main problem is that since it is a long sequence that people are remembering, someone will eventually make a mistake in the sequence. The other main problem is since they only understand how to carry out this one task, if they were suddenly required to open the door for 20 seconds, or close the door quicker than normal, they would have no idea how to since they don't understand what they're  doing, so can't modify the routine. They would need to learn an entirely new routine, taught from scratch to them by someone who knows how to do it.

Now think about if the buttons were labelled. You could now tell them to send the elevator up, wait for it to arrive, open the doors for at least 10 seconds, close the door then immediately send it back down and open the door once it arrives. Now the person not only knows what to do but can change their routine, since they understand what each button is doing as they press it.  Anyway, Thought over, 

-Aaron

Control Panel