I’ve been using computers since I was 4 years old, so I know a little bit about how to use them and how they work. For instance, there’s times I’ll know when my frozen MacBook Pro will unfreeze, or whether the beachball will continue to spill for infinity. This is not black magic, but based on knowing what processes are running and thinking about what could be clogging up the system.
It’s not just that I troubleshoot computers, but I know how to.
Most people who know me know that I’m good with computers so they ask for my help. What usually happens is this:
Broken Computer Person: Mike, can you figure out why [name of broken thing] won’t work on my computer?
Me: Sure, let me take a look.
[I sit down at the computer, troubleshoot for a few minutes and fix the issue]
Me: There. Should work now.
Broken Computer Person: Holy crap. Awesome! What did you do?
Me: I just did [description of solution].
Broken Computer Person: I JUST did the very same thing, but it didn’t do anything!!! Why did it work for you and not for me?!
If I had a dollar for every time a version of the above has happened to me, I’d uh, have many hundreds of dollars.
I needed a name for this phenomenon, so I enlisted the help of my brother Mark. I explained to him how in quantum mechanics, they have the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle–where the observer affects the outcome of the experiment.
What I needed was a name for what happens in situations like the above scenario.
A few days later, my brother replied:
Competency entanglement (n.) The phenomenon of problem-solving success that competent individuals impart on a given situation by the influence of their sheer presence, resulting in outcomes otherwise unobtainable by incompetent agents.
Nice job, Mark. I consider this an early Christmas present.