A fragile equilibrium

The central difference between practitioners and theorists is one of focus. Practitioners are constantly asking themselves a single question: “Does it work?” Or sometimes, “Does X work better than Y?” That’s all they care for. Think of a soldier. He isn’t concerned with why a bullet comes out of his rifle with such precision; he only cares that it does so reliably.

This is the opposite stance to theorists. Theorists, to some degree, care if it works, just as practitioners need a base level understanding of the mechanics of why. But mainly, practitioners are obsessed with the question, “Why does it work?” Sticking with the soldier example: they want to know why one rifle is more or less accurate, more or less powerful, more or less reliable than another. 

This dichotomy is useful because it allows us to identify our preferences and tailor our activities accordingly. “Am I more concerned with whether or not a thing works, or why it works?” If it’s the former, we can search out roles and responsibilities that allow us to do, to make, to build. If it’s the latter, we can search out roles and responsibilities that allow us to question, to dig, to speculate. And if it’s both? Then we need to find a fragile equilibrium in the activities of our lives.