Computers are everywhere these days. They are, of course, in all of our homes and workplaces: you’ll seldom walk into an office without seeing a sea of black rectangles staring back at you, and since the pandemic, many of us now have a ‘work laptop’ alongside our standard ‘regular laptop.’ However, there are also computers in many of the items that we use in our day-to-day lives: microwaves, cars, cash registers, treadmills, and televisions. Even some high-end toilets now contain computers!
With this total ubiquity of the computing device, it is surprising how little many of us actually know about what goes on inside a computer. Aside from a few keywords (hard drive, programming, code, motherboard, etc.), very few people are aware of what makes computers tick (or beep, or whirr). Here are a few of the reasons why it might be worth taking some time to change that by learning a little bit about the computers in your life.
1. The ability to self-troubleshoot
How many of us have been working away on a computer only to have it shut down unexpectedly? Or else come home to find the laundry we left in the machine unwashed, with an ERROR message blinking at us from its screen? With no knowledge of what’s going on under the hood of these crucial everyday devices, it can be exceptionally challenging to fix them.
Turning to an expert for repair, however, can be very costly. Not to mention the extreme irritation of having to wait until your device is fixed to use it again, with no control over when that happens. Often, repair shops have weeks or months-long waitlists for everyday computer-centric items, which often break, such as laptops and mobile phones.
By learning more about the computer at the heart of your device, you’re more likely to be able to fix at least basic issues immediately and by yourself. Even if you can’t solve a more challenging issue, you’ll have the knowledge base to be able to understand the problem and explain it to the person you hire to fix it. This will make communication between you and your specialist easier and offer you a bit more peace of mind during the repair process.
2. Career opportunities
Doing basic research on your own will help you to solve basic computer problems, which will likely make you popular among your friends and family. Yet, becoming officially trained in computer science will give you an even bigger leg up in understanding your computer, as well as offer you the opportunity to join countless incredible fields for a career. Even if you have never studied computers before, plenty of institutions now offer an online masters in computer science for non CS majors. This type of course will give you professional-level skills in computer science and engineering and qualify you to find a job that is both interesting and extremely lucrative.
Since computers truly are everywhere, being knowledgeable about how they work is a very desirable skill. Of course, major computer companies always need programmers and engineers to develop new software and programming, but plenty of other fields need computer scientists to deal with the mechanical parts of their products. Car manufacturers and designers, for example, require employees who can create and maintain the computerized systems on which most automobiles have been running for the past 30-odd years.
Other fields need computers scientists and software engineers as well: train operations companies, government defense departments, hospitals and healthcare centers, as well as big tech companies, are always in need of people who can keep the systems running.
3. Relieving anxiety
In an age when many of us feel overwhelmed by the pace of progress, articles and news reports that blame computers and digital technology for the world’s ills can make us feel even more disconnected from the devices we use every day. Just google ‘Technology is ruining…’ and have a look at some of the things that come up. This type of panic reporting can contribute to, rather than relieve, anxiety about the fast-moving nature of the world around us because our devicesbegin to seem like incomprehensible all-powerful black boxes which govern our lives without our consent.
Learning more about the computer systems that are at the heart of these devices offers a great chance to find some peace through knowledge. After all, understanding something is key to mastering it; cognitive-behavioral theory is based on this principle.
Computers are not yet (nor are likely ever to be) the all-powerful items our collective imagination has made them out to be: there are limits to what even the most advanced computers can do. Taking some time to learn about these limits might provide the perfect remedy to feelings of anxiety in a busy world.
4. You can do cool stuff!
People with the know-how to mess about with their computers are always doing cool stuff. Whether you’re interested in tracking your finances or in creating a multimedia light display for your local park, learning the ins and outs of a computer is the place to start on both projects.
Knowing more about how your computer works also allows you to create mods (modifications) for your favorite games and software or even build games of your own. Video games designed by independent individuals—also known as indie games—have been some of the most popular games around the world in the past decade.
Once you understand how your computer works, you can start building or using a huge variety of apps to do all sorts of interesting things. You can even get creative with the construction of the computer itself! Many computer experts choose to build their own computers using unique, modified parts. Some people even turn their homemade computers into incredible works of technological art.
Whatever you want to accomplish with your new computer learning, there is absolutely no downside to knowing a bit more about what’s going on inside the computers in your life!