The Many-Labyrinths Interpretation

Bridging the gap between superficial knowledge and practical understanding can be downright overwhelming. Why?

The Many-Labyrinths Interpretation

When it comes to a lot of tech related stuff, there's divide between beginner level comprehension and practical implementation. There's simply something along the way that clicks into place in a way that makes so much sense that everything that came before the intuitive leap that enabled sudden comprehension seems to pale in comparison. All the rest of that junk you've spent days reading through didn't help like that one last thing did, did it?

That big intuitive leap, the main bit of insight, seems pithy enough to be able to relate to others but it is ultimately just icing on a cake of frustrated and desperate scrounging-for-information. Or perhaps a better analogy would be a door at the end of a labyrinth. For those who have successfully traversed the labyrinth, the path through seems perfectly reasonable.

Describing the Big Intuitive Leap is often no better than telling someone stuck in the labyrinth, "There's a door at the end. Just go through that."

As someone who has been stuck in the labyrinth more times than I'd care to admit, it's great knowing that there's a door at the end and all, but it doesn't do a whole lot to help me get there.

Keeping with this analogy though, there's still hope. Because even though most people just want to point to the door at the end as their helpful deed for the day, occasionally they drop other tidbits of information. "There's a door at the end just past a swampy pit filled with spikes and leeches." Now you know there's a pit of spikes and leeches, and that crossing that pit is necessary to reach the door. The more you scour the forum threads of oddly bad explanations, the more tidbits you can amalgamate into a rough map of how to get to the door.

Then once you find the door, you can experience the struggle of trying to recollect and explain your path through the labyrinth to someone else trapped inside.

One of the problems is that the labyrinth shifts. It's different for everyone because everyone is starting off from a different baseline of comprehension. Different backgrounds, different conceptualizations, and different fundamental mechanisms of learning.

Think of it as the Many-Labyrinth Interpretation. (And yes, I did enjoy this name so much that I made it the title of this post.)

The map for one person probably won't do the trick for someone else stuck in a different part of a similar, but ever-so-slightly different labyrinth. The swampy pit filled with spikes and leeches might still be there, but perhaps this time it's after the dancing skeleton that sings riddles instead of after the crow with a single white tail feather.

So even for those who put in monumental effort into their descriptions of escaping the labyrinth, the information may still not be the solution for someone else stuck inside.

"Don't let perfect be the enemy of good."

Determining the state of someone else's labyrinth and interposing your own map onto theirs in order to provide a best-possible-explanation can require a significant investment of time and energy. And that's assuming that communication barriers don't get in the way, which is rarely the case.

However, my map through my own labyrinth can still hopefully help someone else in theirs, even if they aren't the same. It all goes back to the tidbits of information. The labyrinths don't need to be a no-mans-land of information where people only want to describe the door at the end. Those discrete bits of description can still be helpful to someone else to point them in the right direction.

Helping someone doesn't necessarily entail solving all of their problems for them. Having been the person lost in the maze plenty of times, I certainly don't want people to hand me the solutions. Okay, maybe every once in a while it's a nice experience. But having a problem solved for me doesn't necessarily tell me how to solve a similar problem again in the future.

Most of the time, all it takes is to have my problems heard, and to be pointed in a direction. Even if that direction doesn't ultimately work out, I still value the direction because the things I learn along the way have intrinsic value. Not to mention that it helps to have that connection, and to not feel completely alone in an endeavor.

I believe that to be the case for most people seeking answers.