Learning, the act of gaining knowledge, is a craft unto itself. It starts with questions - the what ifs, how abouts, whys, . . . leading from the unknown to the known, through inquiry, experimentation, travel, and of course pure accident.

This is about how it happens in my life.

This is not about . . . or why it's never just semantics

One of the most useful things to come out of my time at UofA School of Library and Information Studies is rooted in one of those most Library-ish of concepts: cataloguing.  An essential (if not the primary) point of cataloguing is findability of the content, that is, what is actually included/mentioned/covered in the material being catalogued.
The precision of the catalogue record speaks to what is. The record never tells you what isn't covered. Not only would the every record be infinite, but it would be impossible to find anything specific.  Without firm rules and precise language, well, you have the Internet.

Searching online can be joyous or frustrating, depending on context and constraints.  Even the most expert, the most intuitive searcher can be stymied by  simple words and simple biases.
I am neither of the above, although I have had moments of each.

Like the hermit crab, Dear Hubby and I will soon be moving into a new Home, one more suited to our plans. We'll be acquiring a used motorhome and hitting the road this summer, westward bound.

The broader term for motorhome is recreational vehicle, or RV. This concept includes everything from tent trailers to campers to van conversions to standard motorhomes (20-30 ft) to what are called "park model" RVs which are no different that what you see in a residential trailer park, at 40+ft long. You aren't hooking up and moving on to a new campground with a park model. It, along with many 5th wheel and other similar style RVs are plunked down somewhere and often never moved again.

When I think "vehicle" I think motored, powered, moving under it's own steam as it were. I don't think of a trailer as a vehicle. A trailer is just a platform on wheels- OK, a really fancy platform in some cases, but still. It's not a vehicle.
But, it is.

The result of my bias, combined with such simple (and therefore broad) words means that I ended up looking at dealer sites that absolutely did not have anything at all remotely what I was looking for.  I found lots of dealers with lots of trailers, campers, tent trailers, 5th wheels and park models.  Not so many with motorhomes. 
The good news is that all the extra stuff I found was after I had already identified a few companies based on the intuition and expertise I do have.  I wanted to be sure I didn't miss other options, other firms, so I tweaked the search and looked at results that were remotely promising.  I now know more about the RV world than I needed to. No big: an informed decision is the result.
Catchphrases, verbal shorthand, stereotypes: the kernel of truth only goes so far. What we think of as synonyms are sometimes hierarchical; the broader term sometimes implies a direction quite at odds with the more specific term; our simple cognitive bias via our context acts as blinkers. Sometimes it isn't always obvious when the words are the same but the meaning is different.

It's like the saying, "Love your librarian." The public thinks: love "every one who works in a library is" my librarian. But really it means: love "only the fraction who have a specific degree, although lord knows why it needs to be a Masters, can be called " my librarian.

It's never just semantics.

No comments:

Post a Comment