Confused? Are you staring at a screen that lets you view almost every available scrap of information in the world, but you can’t even find a precise description of the problem you want to solve … let alone a clear, trustworthy solution?
Our cherished and time-honored habits of acquiring and communicating knowledge have stopped working for us, precisely because information has become superabundant … and less reliable at the same time. Both idiots and terrorists can — and do — publish to global audiences at no cost to publisher or reader. And you can’t tell the difference between their scribblings and those of truly wise people.
So we need new ways to crack that nut. New methods. New technology. New behaviors. We need new understandings of how to turn information into knowledge — understandings that respond to the new realities that face us.
Is that too much to ask?
I think not. Literacy itself is scarcely 5,000 years old — just a few minutes in the “year” of human existence on Earth. For most of that brief time, a few men worked with a tiny corpus of documents to negotiate meaningful solutions to a small number of problems.
However, in the past 40 years every aspect of converting information into practical knowledge has changed in ways either small or deeply confounding.
The old ways of extracting meaning from information did work. We need to rediscover and reinvent those ways to meet our new realities.
ART CREDIT: Paige Terese Ross, copyright 2019. Original is pen, ink, and watercolors. Ms. Ross is an artist, summa cum laude graduate of Ohio Wesleyan, and will be entering her first year of law school at Ohio State University this fall. She is one of my six beautiful and talented granddaughters.
© Copyright 2021 Philip C. Murray