Not Short for Apples

Not as Smart as I Thought

Not Short for Apples

In recent months, I’ve started to come to the realization that I am not nearly as smart as I thought I was. I mean, I’m pretty smart, I know all my letters and most of my numbers. I know lots of really big words and can reference cultural phenomena, famous historical figures and events. But I‘m talking about general IQ. My knowledge of computers, programming, portable devices and software doesn’t necessarily equate to raw intelligence. An understanding of machinery, engines, architecture or design and composition can have far more practical applications than understanding where the mute button is on your iPhone.

After studying, designing and building computer hardware for years and then moving on to software, web development, app design and dabbling in network management, I’ve been told dozens of times that I was very smart. I’ve heard folks tell me I was smarter than they were, and I’ve seen people shake their head in amazement when I’ve found a technical solution for them after just a few seconds of diagnosis. Some people try to follow what I’m talking about when I discuss internet applications, scientific marketing techniques or advanced analytics, others don’t even attempt to follow along. I’ve struggled to not sound condescending when I simplify an explanation to make it more understandable, but I know I probably come off as a know it all (I secretly love it when someone applauds my apparent intelligence)!

But is any of that really intelligence? Isn’t having this sort of knowledge otherwise known as being a dork? If I were to rattle off details about your website and its marketing capacity expectation in combination with your analytical software and your server specs, would it represent any greater intelligence than if I explained why the Millenium Falcon couldn’t possibly win a race against Star Trek’s USS Enterprise?

Patience is a Virtue

Not Short for Apples

The truth of the matter is that it isn’t as much intelligence as it is patience. Patience with new technology isn’t that hard for someone who is interested. In fact, if the technology or whatever contains a service, commodity, convenience or an entertainment that you want, you’re more likely to demonstrate the patience required to learn enough about it that you can operate it. Some years ago, I recall explaining to an older man that he can’t just try to memorize everything I was saying and then he’d know how to use his computer. I tried to teach him that he should set a goal he wanted to achieve with the computer and then try different things until he achieved that goal. There are scores of ways that any one task can be accomplished, especially from a digital point of view. Memorizing the layout of icons on your desktop, for example, might help you to find something easier, but if they were moved accidentally or through an update, would you be completely at a loss or could you find what you wanted some other way? Remaining calm, demonstrating patience and lending your focus will usually allow you to accomplish just about any task you expected to be able to perform on your device. Is that intelligence or is it merely interest?

Apps...  Short for Applications.

The Upshot

Not Short for Apples

While operating your smartphone or setting the clock on your microwave may not be the same as devising market strategies based on demographics or analyzing web use behaviors, they are rooted in the same basic skills. There is an even more obvious comparison when you look at younger generations or tech enthusiasts. Some people are very much into the most popular social media channels or avid users of the latest wearable tech. Apps, streaming services and web-based firmware are constantly introduced to the public and there are some folks who just have to get that latest gadget or service. For some people, it’s a mark of prestige, for others they see it as a social standard. Some of us just think the stuff is cool. Others, are simply content with their ability to coordinate their next dinner date without a new app (app is short for application, by the way).

In short, knowledge of the latest device, the most advanced app or the hottest wearable tech does not equate to intelligence. Which means, lack of knowledge about those things doesn’t imply stupidity. Perhaps me and my counterparts would do well to remember this, as much as it might help others to consider that their intelligence is as relevant in a text as it was in a fax.

Rich Harris
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