I was browsing the internets recently like I do quite often, and I came across a discussion thread talking about how far we’ve come technologically as a species. Let’s face it, we’re pretty awesome when it comes to our inventions and what we can do. I mean, I’m in my early twenties and things are so different from when I was first introduced to technology.
One post struck me. It pointed out that we now have small devices that can fit in our pockets, devices that can let us instantly communicate with anyone anywhere on the planet by sending signals into space. These devices also let us access all the accumulated knowledge of our entire species. We have access to every fact known to man with a few simple taps.
For someone who thinks intellectual progress and learning are awesome, this is super, super cool.
But it got me thinking. Information is so easy to get now. You don’t have to trudge to a library anymore, you can just type on your keyboard for a few seconds and you have it. Hell, with some smartphones and tablets, you can ask them questions with your voice and they will talk right back to you. The only way it could be any easier is if the knowledge were downloaded directly into your brain so that you didn’t even have to read. (Never fear, lazy people, that day is coming soon.)
So here’s my question. Is there really an excuse for not knowing things anymore? Let’s say for simplicity’s sake I’m talking about things just about anyone could figure out. Let’s also posit that this is knowledge that you are interested in knowing in the first place. Obviously some knowledge is beyond the bounds of simple research, and sometimes you just couldn’t care less about certain facts. But so often I see people that don’t know very basic things. And they know they don’t know it, but don’t do anything about it. Does that seem weird to you?
I’m fully aware that being able to learn things means that you have to know what you don’t know. You have to have the right questions to be able to get the right answers. But let’s face it. Knowledge is available to us like never before. You can learn new things and read up on detailed subjects incredibly easily. You can even get your computers to read the answers to you if you so desire.
What do you think? Do you think there are still reasonable excuses to not know things despite how readily available information is today? (Again, consider that the information in question is both teachable to most people and relevant to their interests.)