Know-how is more than knowledge. It puts knowledge to work in the real world. It is how scientific discoveries become routine medical treatments, and how inventions — like the iPod or the Internet — become the products and services that change how we work and play.
As the moon-and-ghetto disparity demonstrates, know-how is unevenly distributed. But why?
At the time, the chemicals were used widely as refrigerants and solvents for semiconductors. But no one ended up going without refrigerators or computers.
Whether or not the search yields results, it will at least help us to better understand why we can put a man on the moon, but we cannot manage to improve literacy rates, or shape workable policies on climate change, or reduce global poverty.
Knowing the mechanics that drive the “go” may help us to separate what is practically effective from our value judgments, and come up with a process that spurs solutions to problems as predictably as technological know-how does today.