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The Lost Threads

How many quality posts are lost to the finer workings of the human brain?

8:48 pm on Oct 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I'm an educator by trade. One of the things we know, as educators, is that the best way to teach information to any student, young or old, is to have them explain that information to someone else. Research shows that the retention rate for this task is literally 85% higher than the retention rate for listening to someone else lecture on a topic and 80% higher than the retention rate for reading an explanation of the same material. The connections and associations that occur when processing information for sharing with someone else are astronomically powerful.

I experienced a bout of this just this morning as I struggled with a PHP script. I couldn't for the life of me figure out what I was doing wrong, and finally, after 40 rage-inducing minutes, I clicked the "New Post" button in the PHP Forum and started composing a post. Five or six minutes later the post was ready to submit...and also completely unecessary, since in the course of articulating the problem I had figured out the solution.

Which made me wonder: how many really great questions, questions that could be springboards for a reference thread or a valuable discussion, are lost to the human brain's tendency to solve it's problems in the course of figuring out what they are? Not that my particular question would have made for a life-altering thread, but this isn't the first time this has happened to me, and I'm certainly not the first person to whom it has happened.

I hate to think how much great information I'm not getting to read because other members are figuring things out on their own! :)


10:29 pm on Oct 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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That is a very interesting post because this has happened to me on other technical forums. As I work through the problem, and keyboard the post, I start to solve it at the same time. Not always of course, but sometimes.

I have often thought “what a coincidence”. It’s like going to the doctor. As soon as I step in the doctor’s office I feel fine.

For decades I have worked in problem solving environments, and I once had a manager who said: “ As soon as you start taking data on a problem, it starts to go away”. I think the data doesn’t make the difference but it’s how we change our thought processes when we start taking the data.

Taking data is a little like typing the post. The “problem” becomes a little more objective. Also, the post is sometimes a written checklist like “I tried this and I tried that” but the checklist isn’t complete so before you post you must try that last possibility that may solve the problem…

So, there are ton of missing posts out there, especially technical ones. But the forum posting process is very much a supply and demand driven system. When no answer is supplied to the potential poster, from previous posts or otherwise, they will eventually post, in theory anyway : )

7:06 am on Oct 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I am not formally educated, quit school at 15(I don't even have a GED-never needed it so never bothered), but learned this quickly by joining this board. At first I would post everything I wrote. Now, I come here to make posts even when I have no intention of submitting them. Whatever they taught you in that thing called school about this subject, it works!
11:46 am on Oct 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Ahh, never mind, I just figured it out..... ;)

LOL, yeah, I often do the same, but I think most of my questions are pretty lightweight to begin with, or maybe I am lazy initially and figuring them out is easier than posting here....LOL

6:56 am on Oct 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Learning is the detection of patterns.
7:32 am on Oct 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

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'Only connect' ... as someone once said.
8:41 am on Oct 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Isn't it amazing how many answers we find that we already do know ourselves if only we manage to ask the right questions?

Of course it may be a problem that some interesting problems are never made public, but personally I would regard it as completely legitimate to present a problem, present your solution to it and then ask others if they can see some flaws in the solution or they can think of a better one.