June 1, 2008

What don’t you know?

Posted in Web tagged , , , at 11:19 pm by Andrew McMillen

While chatting with a friend using MSN Messenger, I found myself about to ask a simple, specific question about an upcoming event. I stopped myself, because I realised that the answer was almost right in front of me.

All that I had to do was alt-tab; ctrl+E; enter query.

I’m embarrassed that I only just noticed this tendency of denying myself instant knowledge. Of relying on others to supply information that’s easily within my grasp. While I regularly use Google to define unfamiliar terms when reading, I’ve never consciously acknowledged this selfish habit when interacting with others.

This is less about creating an all-knowing facade than it is about about a desire to save time. By taking the initiative and informing myself of an unfamiliar term, I’m saving my friend the time it’d take them to explain. It’s futile to wish for this desire to be mutual: I’ve already realised that you should never hold others to your own standards.

This discussion presents an interesting dichotomy: increasingly, the question is changing from “what do you know?“, to “what don’t you know?”.

In an economy where information is free and search engine algorithms are constantly being refined, knowledge barriers are almost non-existent. This means that age is no longer an issue. It’s entirely possible that a dedicated 15 year-old – hell, a 12 year-old – could become one of the most knowledgeable individuals in the world in a particular topic; though, this notion has limitations in fields that require practical experience.

It’s heartening to see that some are realising the value of encouraging students to engage with social media. True world-changers are already engaging.

Advertisements

2 Comments

  1. Nick Drewe said,

    Several times recently while eating out, I have found myself Googling from my phone to find out the contents of a puzzling menu item or ingredient that I would have otherwise avoided. It saves me the embarasment of asking the waitstaff, and saves them the embarasment if they dont know. But on the other hand, can all of this instant knowledge take the fun of suspense out of the unknown?

  2. Nick Drewe said,

    I can’t spell embarrassment.


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: