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10 Bits of Wisdom I Learned From a Computer

Posted by on December 17, 2015

7858475 Young couple with tabletsLife is hard, but help is all around us. The trick is to take your learning where you find it. In my case, as a technology teacher, it‘s from computers. A while ago I posted four lessons I learned from computers:

  1. Know when your RAM is full
  2. You Can‘t Go Faster Than Your Processor Speed
  3. Take Shortcuts When You Can
  4. Be Patient When You‘re Hourglassing

I got a flood of advice from readers about the geeky lessons they got from computers. See which you relate to:

8033305 Girl with tablet#5: Go offline for a while

We are all getting used to–even addicted to–that online hive mind where other voices with thoughts and opinions are only a click away. Who among us hasn’t wasted hours on Facebook, Twitter, blogs–chatting with strangers or virtual friends ready to commiserate and offer advice. It’s like having a best friend who’s always available.

But while your back is turned, the real world is changing. Once in a while, disconnect from your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram–even your blogmates. Re-acquaint yourself with the joys of facial expressions, body language, and that tone of voice that makes  the comment, “Yes, I’d be happy to help” sincere or snarky. Engage your brain in a more intimate and viscerally satisfying world.

404 error page not found!#6: Accept 404s

In technology, this means something unexpected shut down the website you want to visit. I wouldn’t call them common, but they are ever-present and predictable.

These happen in life too: Houston, we have a problem. That road you were following suddenly became a dead end. We like to believe life will always go as planned, but–like those webpages–it doesn’t. Accept that with equanimity. Devise an alternate path and move on. Revel in your flexibility–circumstances don’t dictate your happiness.

#7: I’m in beta

You’ve probably used beta sites. It is the developer’s way of saying the site isn’t fully vetted, may have problems, but you are welcome to visit while they work through the glitches.

The truth is: Everyone lives life in beta. It’s rare we are fully prepared. In fact, we love the wild data points that add variety to our lives. When we experience the same predictable event over and over (and over), it bores us and we force a change. Jobs come with vacations. Family life includes alone time. Humans traipse over the horizon just to see what’s there. Only when something goes wrong do we get the adrenaline rush that comes with problem solving.

Plus, being in beta makes it OK to be imperfect, to fail and try again, to follow our dreams. failure

#8: Fail Fast

Tech has a saying: “Fail fast.” The idea is to recognize that something is wrong and declare failure before you’ve wasted too much time. That’s a good life lesson. Know when to cut your losses. Trust your instincts to point you the right direction. ‘Failure’ often makes people throw their hands in the air, call for help, wail about injustice–but it’s none of those: Consider it a chance to succeed. Nothing feels better than success.

#9: Work at the bit level 

Some say, at the pixel level. Pundits call it ‘granular’. What it means is you zoom in on a problem, notice the detail, and fix the errors. Don’t be afraid to do that.

There’s an aphorism: ‘Can’t see the forest for the trees’. The opposite is true, too.

#10: Every once in a while, reboot4718494 commercial woman with a laptop

When you reboot your computer, you shut everything down and start over. Think of it as a clean desk where you open select files before you add the post-its, scribbles, and coffee cup rings that invariably indicate progress.

In life, a ‘reboot’ is called for when you feel like an overstuffed file cabinet rather than a finely tuned machine. When you’ve created chaos out of order despite your best efforts to the contrary. Go on vacation or take a coffee break. You might even do something completely different. Whatever it is, it’s that virtual slap in the face that snaps you back to the real world rather than the maze you’ve become lost in. That’s healthy.

That’s it–ten nuggets of wisdom to be learned from computers. Do you have any you’d like to share?


  1.  I don’t have enough bandwidth to add that to my schedule

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

3 Responses to 10 Bits of Wisdom I Learned From a Computer

  1. Stephanie Faris

    I love it. These are perfect! New Year’s Eve seems to be a reboot of sorts…


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