Serious food for thought from: The Dangers Of Externalizing Knowledge
It’s become far easier to acquire expertise — at the cost of insight. There’s a reason, after all, why it’s called insight. Because insight is the result of recombination, hybridizing ideas, internal accidents, emergent properties of ideas we never even knew were related.
Contemplating the shortcomings of the younger generation has ever been a hobby of the elder. As I start to transition to the latter population (perhaps a bit early for my age), I’ve found myself worrying more and more about the kids, and how little they seem to appreciate things. That kind of complaint is neither constructive or original. But the fact is that the kids are growing up pretty weird these days, because of the way technology has outpaced our institutions of learning and standards of knowledge.
The short attention span and reliance on non-text media are to be expected in an age where attention is indulged by on-demand information, and the effects of these things will continue to be written about, rightly and wrongly. There is a more subtle and insidious trend, however,
It’s a process that has been going on for a long time, but that recent developments may push to the breaking point. The problem, as I see it, is that we have stopped valuing the accumulation of information within ourselves.
Because of this reliance, do people know their cities, roads, and neighborhoods better? Not as well? Or simply in a different way? After all, services like Foursquare and Urban Spoon encourage serendipitous discovery of restaurants and locations. I think it is a strange paradox, that these technologies expose us to new things while at the same time clapping blinders on us.
To return to the thesis, however: general knowledge seems to be following the path of locational knowledge, and the consequences are similar, but more dire. While consulting the GPS means you don’t build an internal map of your neighborhood, consulting the external knowledge engine of the internet means you don’t build a map of your entire intellectual world.