My son hands me a Rubik’s Cube. I haven’t held one in three decades. I grasp it in one hand and slowly rotate the sides. I had one when I was a kid but I never managed to crack the code.
I hand it back and he begins to fiddle, rotating the boxes left and right and turning them steadily this way and that until its finished. It takes about a minute. I look on amazed.
“How did you learn how to do that?”
“YouTube,” he said.
“Really,” I say, expressing skepticism.
“I watched a video,” he says.
That my son watches lots of videos comes as no surprise. It is a revelation that he’s watching instructional videos to learn how to solve puzzles.
He explains that there are a number of different methods and techniques to complete the Cube. He describes it the way an experienced climber talks about ascent routes for Mount Everest.
My son describes how the videos show “algorithms” that are the “move sets” you need to learn. By completing one pattern after another you can gradually solve the puzzle.
I had been worried that he was often glued to his laptop. I thought he wasn’t learning anything, that he should be outside running around.
I use Google to look up directions and find the answers to all sorts of questions. Unlike my son, it’s not second nature to me to search for videos explaining how to do things. It reminds me that it’s not enough to have access to resources, you have to use them.
When I cannot figure something out I tend to ask people directly, just as I did 30 years ago when I got my first Rubik’s Cube.
The trouble with that solution now, just as it was then, is that my friends don’t always have the answers.
**Published by Ted Merz Sep 12, 2015**