me, thinking out loud…

Asking vs. Figuring out

Should one take the easy route of asking someone who knows, if she is sitting right next to you? Or should we try and find out first, before asking her? Should one value his time more than others’ or others’ time more than his own?

Would we learn more if we tried to find out ourselves? Does learning more, make sense? Is it worth spending the extra time?

I’m just talking of simple things that you could figure out by spending a couple of minutes of searching the web or 5 minutes of thinking or 10 minutes of reading a book.


Comments on: "Asking vs. Figuring out" (7)

  1. I would say it as self learning Vs. getting fed/taught.
    The later one is easy and works for quick-fix, but first one needs time, one has to consolidate all arguments to convince him/(her)self which is laborious ;) who prefers what depends on nature of person or time available. IMHO

  2. The primary drive for asking/figuring is inquistiveness and to quench the same you need to dig in to understand the query.
    Figuring:understanding.. and not just merely understanding…it means to make YOUR OWNSELF understand, and that’s exactly what you need to if you want to reach the crux of any query/argument.

    Figuring it is.

    • but, isn’t it good to ask some “expert” (in case you have access to her) to help you ease your learning curve? Why do we have all these workshops and sprints and conferences, if figuring it out yourself, is the way to go? [Just thinking out loud.]

  3. First of all, you like asking others. That is evident from this post :P

    But if you say asking them is their waste of time and thinking is yours, I differ. In a way, thinking for yourself without sharing your doubt maybe selfish( the colloquial selfish, not the gene selfish :P)

    About knowing and understanding, I don’t know, maybe you could get both from both the cases, if you know what to get.

    Yeah, I know I am not being useful. This is a case in the point where it is better you work it out yourself :P

    • I don’t like asking others when finding out facts. Yes, I do like to get the “opinions” of others, but not when finding facts out. They can be Googled (9 out of 10 times).

  4. If it is a person sitting next to me I will ask. You hopefully learn and you get to talk!

    If it is about asking a speaker, it will depend on my impression of the speaker.

    But in general, this issue confuses me much. I don’t ask when I think something “should be” figure-able. In books I first just browse the pages, then go to index, and then to the table of contents when looking for something. (this is quite useful) But I do this when using computer programs (not reading man pages, and expecting things to work as I expect them to) and many times I end up cursing the programmers.

    The good thing about “figuring-out” is that it “broadens your mind”. For example, when after trying different things you finally give-up and ask, you will learn either that (i)the designer is crazy, or that (ii)you were missing something important, or at least (iii)something to keep in mind as you proceed further–for there must have been a reason for doing things in such a “crazy” manner! (crazy manner: something which doesn’t appear obvious to you)

    Another point you must have noticed: If asked, your question should better be interesting to the person you are asking to! If not, you will probably get no answer, and you will earn negative brownie points on top of it! The other person may think that “he/she doesn’t care for my time”. One FreeBSD manual said that if a question can be answered with upto ten minutes of searching online, you shouldn’t raise it in online forums (and it will only get an RTFM).

    If I remember correctly, The Fermi Solution (Hans Christian von Bayer) says that you should never ask. There is a “Fermi Solution” to “how many piano tuners are there in the city of Chicago”. This, and all questions, can be given an “order of magnitude” reply without needing any “expert” help, and that is all you need. (according to the book) In this context, the book quoted a few paragraphs from Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which is one of my favourite books!

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