Monday, February 18, 2008

Speaking at USF (Part 11): Learning the Basics (or, "Why libraries should support Digital Literacy")

[From Part 10]

The ability to use modern amenities is a skill.

I see these appliances being used on American TV shows. But they stumped me when faced with actually using them (they were in the apartment provided by USF). Luckily Sarah was kind enough to demonstrate their use : )

#1 - Dish washing machine
These are sold in Singapore. Just that I've never used them before. You'd think it's a no-brainer right? Load the dishes, put in the detergent, turn it on...

OK, I know how to load the dishes...
American kitchen appliances

You press the buttons here (options are in English, so no problem understanding what each button will do).
American kitchen appliances

Ah, I didn't know that the washing detergent is loaded here! And seems that you can't use just any detergent. Has to be detergent specially manufactured for dish washing machines (something to do with the amound of suds produced).
American kitchen appliances

This model was called "Quiet Partner II". It probably means it operates quietly. But I really think it means less grumblings by the spouse tasked to do the washing :)
American kitchen appliances

#2 - Garbage Disposal
This one is not common in Singapore, if it's available at all. Sarah says it's not necessarily in all American homes.

American kitchen appliances

Here's a close-up shot of the hole where you dump the stuff (e.g. food and other organic waste). Looks like a gaping jaw of some vicious alien-android. I was told there's a rotating blade below, very much like the food processor, aka blender.

And yes, you can get your fingers hurt if you attempt to reach down while the machine is on.
American kitchen appliances

To use it, you have to let the water run and turn the garbage disposal switch on (located on the wall). You see Sarah pressing the switch with her right hand.
American kitchen appliances

This is the mechanism below the sink. The broken-down and liquefied organic particles are washed away.
American kitchen appliances

Most Singaporeans live in apartment blocks like these:

[Photo credit: yunir]

Waste is dumped into a rubbish chute. Typically each apartment unit has one (this product website has several diagrams showing how they work).

[Photo credit: srikaya2kaya]

I explained to David and Sarah that most Singaporeans live in apartment flats. And most choose to own their homes. I suspect unless they actually step into a housing estate or into a flat, it's hard to really visualise how our homes work (just like how I'm just learning how things work in a particular American home).

The connection to Digital Literacy
The ability to use modern amenities is a skill. Technical skills for modern living.

These skills are the equivalent of wilderness survival skills that people in early civilisations were required to possess.

You could learn on your own after a few trials and errors. But without proper instructions, you might damage the appliances. Or worse, you create inconveniences for others by inadvertently doing the wrong thing.

If we see from that context, then it's not hard to understand why libraries need to forge a role in supporting Digital Literacy.

Computers, IT, Social Media -- these are the appliances of modern living, in my opinion.

[Part 12]


  1. Anonymous10:49 pm

    Hi Ivan, dish washing machine has been Singapore for many years. In 2006 two of my children moved to their new homes and they have dish washing machines with garbage disposal installed.


    1. Hi Philip, am thinking of garbage disposal for my kitchen. Any idea where to get it in sg?

      Thank u!

  2. Anonymous11:41 am

    It still can't capture tacit knowledge though ;)

    My 'tacit' knowledge about dishwashers is that it takes about the same time and effort to load the thing, add the detergent, plan when you're going to empty it, make sure the plates are dry, put them away... etc etc etc.


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