Thursday, December 27, 2012
What we carry in our head
When it's very easy to get any information you need at a few moment's notice, it's easy not to memorize anything. When I was growing up, it wasn't all that uncommon to have arguments about some fact or another. Now it seems that as soon as someone asks a question, the answer gets googled. The younger generations don't know what's it's like to go around not knowing something and not being able to find out quickly.
Of course, previous generations complained that the young didn't memorize anything as it was all written down somewhere in a book. My dad, back in the dark ages, remembers a teacher telling him everything he needed to know could be found in a library. His response was, “Then what I'm I doing here?”
Having the resources of a world wide information net in one's pocket has put the biggest library, with the fastest card catalog, in people's pocket. There's less and less need to keep information in one's head. Besides, there's so much information out there that it's impossible to memorize it all. The days of the well rounded Renaissance Man ended with the Renaissance.
It's all wonderful, except when a person finds is cut off from all that information and has to figure out a way to survive. The grid goes down. A smart phone with a dead battery are of little use. In short, technology fails. Then you are stuck with what you've stuff into your little gray cells. If all it has is web addresses, you are in trouble.
What you need are skills. Skills are more than just information. If you've ever tried to start a fire with a bow drill, you know there's more to it than knowing how. Skills have to be practiced. It's not enough that the head has information. The hands must know what to do and hands learn by doing.
So sure, use the Internet to discover new skills, but then practice them in the real world to make them your own.