Knowledge

Back before Ackoff’s pyramid, back when the idea of knowledge first occurred to us, the ability to know our world was the essential difference between us and the other animals. It was our fulfillment as humans, our destiny. Knowledge itself fit together into a perfectly ordered whole.  Knowledge therefore was considered for thousands of years in the West to be an object of the most perfect beauty.

Following this specific quote Weinberger speaks of Darwin, Galileo, and Madam Curie.  These are just a few of history’s great minds.  Without these individuals, among many others, whom are willing to go against the grain for the sheer joy of knowledge these discoveries could have taken significantly longer to discover.

He quickly follows up with another statement of our ability to comprehend the vast knowledge we gain.

Our most basic strategy for understanding a world that far outruns our brain’s capacity has been to filter, winnow, and reduce it to something more manageable.

Our most intelligent beings are unable to retain the vast amounts of information throughout the world.  Filtering is a way for the most intelligent to some of our lesser educated people to understand the world around us.  There are experts in every field imaginable, but without being able to transfer that knowledge to others the information becomes useless.

Knowledge is power.  That specific saying is something that has stuck with me throughout my life.  Striving for knowledge is an honorable goal.  If filtering is something that must be done in order for the none experts to understand, then that is a valid choice.

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.  With the statement I made in class the other day about over sharing, I realize that even though there is something I did not feel was important another could find it ideal information in a certain topic of research.

These two quotes are what has really spoken to me and how I feel about knowledge.  The world around us is a vast place, and if it means that some of the information is filtered for me to better understand, I am okay with that.  When I find something that really strikes my interest I can then dig further into books, articles, and other forms of documents to increase my understanding.

One thought on “Knowledge”

  1. “I realize that even though there is something I did not feel was important another could find it ideal information in a certain topic of research.” See, this is what I find so intriguing about the internet. As someone trying to find my place in the world in the 1960s and 1970s, it was, in fact, very hard to access more than a small amount of the world in which to experiment with who I was and what I understood and how to think of myself in relation to the experience of others. It helped growing up in a big city — lots of variations and perspectives all in one place! — but even that world was small…and finding as much information to spread out and sample and plunder and side-eye and be astonished by required a lot — a LOT — of time and effort (my parents were so worried about my campaign to gain information that in elementary school they restricted the number of books I was allowed to check out of the public library per visit). I can’t even grasp in what ways my life would have been different if I could have logged on to the internet and seen a sign that said: “start here.” I don’t think I want to give up the overwhelmingness of the internet…but I don’t want people to feel overwhelmed and stymied in the face of it either. A conundrum for our times (?)

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