[Haskell-cafe] Very freaky

Andrew Coppin andrewcoppin at btinternet.com
Wed Jul 11 14:54:55 EDT 2007

Michael T. Richter wrote:
> On Tue, 2007-10-07 at 20:59 +0100, Andrew Coppin wrote:
>> But it rambled on for, like, 3 pagefulls of completely opaque 
>> set-theoretic gibberish before I arrived at the (cryptically phrased) 
>> statements I presented above. Why it didn't just *say* that in the first 
>> place I have no idea...
> Because the overwhelming majority of people who teach math know math 
> well, but do not know teaching well.  Sadly it would be better for all 
> but the highest levels of education to have that reversed.  My own 
> long-standing, deep distaste for the "chicken scratchings" of the pure 
> maths stems from incredibly smart teachers who had no idea how to 
> communicate what they knew to those not already there.

At the risk of becoming tangental... When you are really *deeply* 
knowledgable about something, it can become seriously hard to even 
realise all the things you're constantly assuming your audience knows. 
It's so obvious *to you* that it never even crosses your mind that you 
might need to explain it. Heck, you don't even realise that what you're 
talking about relies on this concept, since it is so deeply embedded in 
your mind.

I see this *a lot* with computers. People who know lots about computers 
forget that some people don't know that a "megabyte" is (considerably) 
bigger than a "kilobyte". Or that having a faster CPU doesn't make 
Windows load faster. The number of technical documents I've seen that 
make perfect sense to a knowledgable person, but would be utter 
gibberish to most normal folk...

I've also come across no end of product websites where the authors are 
so keen to tell you how brilliant their product is and all the cool 
features it has that they completely forget to explain WHAT THE PRODUCT 
DOES! For example, FreeNX. I spent *hours* trying to figure out what 
that actually does...! (In the end, I had to ask somebody. Turns out it 
does nothing of any interest to me, but still...)

I like to think that I'm quite good at explaining technical things using 
non-technical (but not patronising) language. But I'm probably just 
kidding myself...

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