How to Explain Complex Ideas (Like Tech) to Those Who Donít Understand

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#1 Michael26  Icon User is offline

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How to Explain Complex Ideas (Like Tech) to Those Who Donít Understand

Posted 02 February 2014 - 01:35 PM

Found this interesting topic to read, i don't think this is spoon fed version or something like that, but nonetheless is good read. Tell me what do you think, do you agree or disagree. You can also share how you explain difficult topics.

How to Explain Complex Ideas (Like Tech) to Those Who Donít Understand

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Replies To: How to Explain Complex Ideas (Like Tech) to Those Who Donít Understand

#2 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to Explain Complex Ideas (Like Tech) to Those Who Donít Understand

Posted 02 February 2014 - 02:07 PM

Simple answer...

you don't
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#3 creativecoding  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to Explain Complex Ideas (Like Tech) to Those Who Donít Understand

Posted 02 February 2014 - 02:15 PM

I've always found the best way to explain some things is through analogy. That may just be for me however. Like for example, accessing a website is like sending a letter to someone's house asking to read back a page from a book. You send the letter, they get it, and they send back a copy of that page.

Nobody needs to learn about TCP and other network protocols to understand how the internet works at a basic level. If they ask, you can say it's like how in order to send your message and for everyone in the process to understand it, you must address it properly.

analogies are cool.
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#4 depricated  Icon User is online

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Re: How to Explain Complex Ideas (Like Tech) to Those Who Donít Understand

Posted 02 February 2014 - 02:20 PM

My general policy is: don't.

Unless there's a damn good reason and an actual AND BELIEVABLE expectation that they'll retain it, it's not worth my time. If they ask, I think that's a good reason, and demonstrates that they're willing to learn it. But if someone goes "why did the microsoft crash?" I'm not even going to discuss drivers or settings.

Perhaps I'm growing calloused or cynical or curmudgeonly but I'm so sick of explaining things to people who come back the next day for me to explain it again, only to repeat the question the next day, ad infinitum...
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#5 baavgai  Icon User is online

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Re: How to Explain Complex Ideas (Like Tech) to Those Who Donít Understand

Posted 02 February 2014 - 02:31 PM

The language here is questionable. "Those Who Don't Understand" WTF? So, leave that part out.

The we launch into "Let Them Learn by Doing Whenever Possible." Again, this is not explaining ideas. You don't DO ideas.

So, "how do you teach newbies how to use teh computer?"

A fundamental characteristic that all humans of normal intelligence grasp is cause and effect. This allows you to break explanations into "do this, then this happens." Once the result of an action are understood, more variables can be added. "If, when you do this, this is in effect, something different happens."

Now, to explain complex ideas? You use the loosest metaphor you can get away with. Look at how the media goes blathering on about something like the "Higgs boson" without having a clue what they're talking about and the audience even less. Yet, people will walk away thinking they now "know" something they didn't before. "The discovery. The thing about the thing. The quantum thing. They found God, right?"
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#6 Michael26  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to Explain Complex Ideas (Like Tech) to Those Who Donít Understand

Posted 02 February 2014 - 04:38 PM

View Postlordofduct, on 02 February 2014 - 10:07 PM, said:

Simple answer...

you don't


So if you get it you get it, if you don't then you don't?
Being a teacher must then be hardest thing in the world.
But i agree there will be people who won't get it no matter how hard you try, and there will be people who do not want to get it(sorry if grammar is messed up, english is not my primary language)
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#7 depricated  Icon User is online

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Re: How to Explain Complex Ideas (Like Tech) to Those Who Donít Understand

Posted 03 February 2014 - 05:39 AM

The point of "you don't" is more that - that's what teachers are for.

If I were getting paid to train people, sure I'd be all over it and I have a plethora of ways I'd instruct. And I do, when explaining. But for the vast majority, I have no patience left. I suppose I'm jaded from years of tech support. I like helping people, but I'm burnt out on educating them when they don't want to learn.

heh, this even goes for my roommate, who is pretty knowledgable.

Yesterday we sat down and built a website. I explained what he'd ask about but when it got into building a recursive algorithm I just explained it once and left it at that. He's a smart guy, but I cbf teaching him math. He has the code, he can study it and figure it out if he wants. And he probably will.
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#8 h4nnib4l  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to Explain Complex Ideas (Like Tech) to Those Who Donít Understand

Posted 03 February 2014 - 07:36 AM

Dude, if you don't know, then I'm not gonna tell you...
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#9 cfoley  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to Explain Complex Ideas (Like Tech) to Those Who Donít Understand

Posted 03 February 2014 - 04:38 PM

I'm surprised at the number of negative responses here. The we are pre-selected from members of DIC which is a community based around mutual learning. It just so happens that all of the responses are from regulars too!
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#10 supersloth  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to Explain Complex Ideas (Like Tech) to Those Who Donít Understand

Posted 03 February 2014 - 04:42 PM

i wouldn't read too much into it, it's just a clickbait lifehacker article anyway.
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Re: How to Explain Complex Ideas (Like Tech) to Those Who Donít Understand

Posted 04 February 2014 - 12:29 AM

View Postcfoley, on 03 February 2014 - 04:38 PM, said:

I'm surprised at the number of negative responses here. The we are pre-selected from members of DIC which is a community based around mutual learning. It just so happens that all of the responses are from regulars too!

Keep in mind that we expect people to demonstrate that they've attempted to work out the problem they're having. Show your code, etc. If someone is willing to put at least that much effort in to learn, I'll be there with bells on. But I'm not going to try to explain Singletons to a Simpleton.
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#12 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to Explain Complex Ideas (Like Tech) to Those Who Donít Understand

Posted 05 February 2014 - 12:39 PM

I've done a fair bit of teaching and technical writing, and I would say this article is mostly terrible advice. I would particularly avoid everything under the heading of "Find Ways To Make It Matter To Them", which is largely a guide to "how to be that guy that won't shut up about their personal obsession and keeps having to be right about it all the time". Don't be that guy. Instead, if someone asks you about a topic or if you need them to understand something about it, find ways it already matters to them and communicate about those. If someone doesn't care about their password security, haranguing them about using your personal favorite password vault is not going to make anyone happier - not you, not them, and not the people they complain to later about the lecture you gave them.

"Know what details to leave out" is a good piece of advice, though generally that is going to be "all of them", with some specific exceptions. So it would be better to think of this as "know what details to leave in". (that is, nothing goes in unless it absolutely has to be there)

Quote

i wouldn't read too much into it, it's just a clickbait lifehacker article anyway.


Pretty much this.
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#13 Craig328  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to Explain Complex Ideas (Like Tech) to Those Who Donít Understand

Posted 05 February 2014 - 12:53 PM

Posted Image

The first rule of Complex Idea Club...
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#14 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to Explain Complex Ideas (Like Tech) to Those Who Donít Understand

Posted 05 February 2014 - 01:00 PM

I am a big fan of drawing things and taking it into the visual realm to help simplify complex concepts and provide enough of a metaphor for folks to get the gist of what is happening.

http://www.visualthi.../simplify-ideas
http://www.speakinga...ion-simplicity/

Along the same vein as that 'data structure' visualization link I posted a while back.
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#15 Lieoften  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to Explain Complex Ideas (Like Tech) to Those Who Donít Understand

Posted 05 February 2014 - 07:06 PM

View Postcreativecoding, on 02 February 2014 - 02:15 PM, said:

I've always found the best way to explain some things is through analogy. That may just be for me however. Like for example, accessing a website is like sending a letter to someone's house asking to read back a page from a book. You send the letter, they get it, and they send back a copy of that page.

Nobody needs to learn about TCP and other network protocols to understand how the internet works at a basic level. If they ask, you can say it's like how in order to send your message and for everyone in the process to understand it, you must address it properly.

analogies are cool.


I once explained a short film i was working on to someone via analogies... they promptly told me that I was going to get sued for copyright issues because of my analogies. (I explained it as "It's like Bioshock and X-men had a love child, and then that love child grew up to have an affair with bastard son of "Tommyknockers" and Command and Conquer)... So analogies don't always work if the person doesn't grasp the concept.
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