The difference between an eternal noob and the not-yet-an-expert June 23, 2010 | 10:16 am

me: “I’ve been lost here before!”

my friend: “Ah, so you know where you are?”

me: “No, I told you- I was lost then too. I still don’t know where we are, just that I’ve been here before.

When I was 17, my parents moved my family from Bettendorf, Iowa, to Chelmsford, Mass. Among many other interesting aspects of that move, it taught me one important skill that has stood me in good stead throughout my life: the ability to get lost. And the varying degrees of being lost, from “I’m not sure exactly where I am, but I know which neighborhood I’m in and the direction I want to head” to “I’m not sure which state I’m in, and since I’m in the land of the big square states this could be a problem”- and yes, I have been the latter (unsure if I was in Nevada, Utah, California, New Mexico, or Arizona). And how to find my way back again. And, most importantly- why to get lost. And the why is the most important. Most people look at you funny if you state your intention is to go get lost. But you can’t learn something new unless you’re willing to leave the familiar and well known.

I thought about this when I was reading Thomas Petersen’s blog post on why your mom sucks at computers (for the record, my mom sucks at computers only compared to her professional-programmer husband and three professional-programmer children). What struck me was his mother’s unwillingness to get lost, and incapability of dealing with it when she did get lost. This is what differentiates the eternal noob- someone who will never know their way around- and the person who will be a native (aka expert), and just isn’t yet- the willingness and ability to get lost, and wander around finding what is out there. This is a skill, and it can be learned (or relearned, as it is- we are all born explorers). I certainly didn’t have it as a skill when we moved to Chelmsford, I learned it. Your mom can learn it too. Maybe you can as well.

  • Raoul Duke

    @mom vs. computer

    i am a long time software engineer (with gray hair to prove both parts of that) who thinks that, ideally as a goal if not actually really perfectly possible, computers should bend to people, not the other way ’round. getting lost in technology is ok if it is e.g. experimenting with a new fx in photoshop, but it is not ok if it is holy heck where did my external hd go and how do i get it back and did it actually write the files before it was unplugged and why do i have to know all this crap at all augh!

    i wish people were a lot less apologist on behalf of technology, overall.

  • Failfag

    Took me 2 weeks to get my first non-ramming kill in BF3.
    Played the game for 7 months, gave up out of frustration.
    Only succeeded in Servers with either crappy/nonexistent AA and occupied enemy pilots/noobs. Rarely met someone of equal skill, either I completely raped them, or they raped me.
    The only thing that allowed me to succeed was the general lack of (experienced) pilots in BF.

    3 Successful 64 player server matches. 20+ failures. Only played in 20-30 player servers afterwords.
    Jet only, zero infantry gameplay. 0,8 K/D, around 2000 kills total.
    Nowadays, the only game that isn’t eternally depressing is Minecraft on peaceful.