Monday, February 04, 2008

A Knowledge Vertigo

It was always fascinating for me to read up on how in the past people were very observant of their nature and their surrounding. How they have been able to pin down the equinox, calculate the ages(epochs) map the star and a plethora of other scientific discoveries that sound almost alien influenced for the sheer complexity of achieving that level without what we consider as the basics empirical science.

It even boils down into a much closer perspective of how fast science has progressed in the past century to the extent that if you sit down with your parents (if they are old enough) of how life was back in the 30's and what where the normal household utilities available to them you would be shell shocked by the amount of indispensable innovation that occurred.

The other day I was chatting with a friend of mine and it came down to this question "why did humans lose their hair?", I was like WTH ! Beats me if I know. Maybe metrosexuals aren't a new thing and our ape grandfathers were the first metrosexuals of all. So just like anyone that is faced with a question they can't answer they fire up their trust worthy google window and dig into the answers available there . So I reached the following article, and in a matter of minutes I got the gist of what possible answers are there for that question.

Then I moved on, but it got me thinking. One thing the people in the past had a lot of is time. Nowadays we barely have enough time to do anything. work hours are longer, leisure time is less, personal time is stretched too thin and personally speaking I found the only way to "create" more time to do the things that I want is to condition myself for less sleep time.

Never before have it even crossed my mind that nowadays more than ever before it seems that we don't even have the time for independent thought. A seemingly complex idea like why would be loose our hair through evolution was resolved in a matter of minutes rather than the life time it would have taken in the past.

The fact that the cost of acquiring an answer to a question became so cheap made the information more valuable than the journey and prerequisites that were classically required to obtain it. In a way our whole education system has been structured on the answer and providing answers rather than encouraging critical thinking and independent thought regardless of the result reached.

In that manner a fairly infantile technology such as the internet(late 90's is when it started having a global impact) that is only a decade old had such a profound impact on our chain of thought that it offered a limitation to the amount of time we are willing to spend pondering an answer. At least we knew a time before the internet so we didn't lose all our abilities to let our creative energies loose.

The current generation who never knew the world before google or the internet, they will be less willing to sit down and ponder on an issue and more time trying to find the quickest and shortest path to the solution. That would mean that the whole process of innovation will have a slow down when it is their turn to take the wheel of progression of science. It is already evident from the statistics in the developed nations that less and less people are willing to go down the scientific path, and more and more people are facing difficulties in subjects that require critical thinking.

All is not lost, while vertical innovations (making new things out of already available objects) seems to be slowing down. Horizontal innovation is really picking up pace, things that are fundamentally the same since their inception are becoming better at a maddening pace. So without readjusting our educational expectations and total reconstruction of the institutes to place more value on the journey rather than the "holy" truth, we will be living among a society that is gullible and crippled in their independent thought. For they see the cost of attaining knowledge rather than information as too high of a cost to pay.

The funny thing is that deep down inside i didn't want to write this post, and i felt it was pointless because after all, there are definitely hundreds and hundreds of others that thought along the same lines. So why waste my time ? I wonder how many kids will rather drop down their console controllers to go outside and gaze at the stars and ponder ? I bet not many at all.




  • Most answers are at our fingertips. but i am sure there are few people who will go outside and gaze at the stars and ponder! not as many as 100 years ago, but they do exist!
    this is a "makes you wonder post" :)

    By Blogger Summer, At 4/2/08 16:52  

  • I bet otherwise :)

    While yes some of us might find less time to just sit there and think, we have established great systems that helps scientific advancements and new innovations.

    By Blogger The Observer, At 4/2/08 17:49  

  • summer hopefully they will always exist, and am happy if it made you wonder.

    observer interesting bet, so what great systems come to your mind ? and the problem is not the time per se. the problem that i was stating is that the lack of a quick answer is what drives innovation, cause it forces critical thinking. thats the fundamental difference between school education and university and that is the period to develop a persons critical thinking. the internet is making the price too high to go the classical path of acquiring knowledge (the unit price here would be time)

    By Blogger No_Angel, At 4/2/08 19:43  

  • no_angel, I dont think that lack of quick answers drives motivation. You can always question a very well defined answer, and even if you get something quick, it can serve you to build on it.

    I was thinking of the scientific society methods of research, study and documenting things. We have come so far, and the wheel of innovation is accelerating, just look at how things changed in the past 50 years and compare it to 2000 years before that. Who do you think would win?

    By Blogger The Observer, At 5/2/08 11:13  

  • I didn't disagree with you there, thats what i meant by horizontal innovation. taking something and building up on it, rather than creating a new thing ;)

    all am saying that the impact of the internet on critical thinking and innovation will be negative on the long run if the educational methods remain the same. remember i only have 10 years to adequately draw conclusions from so not anywhere close to 50

    By Blogger No_Angel, At 5/2/08 12:18  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links To This Post

Create a Link

<< Home