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Information Age and the Loss of Wisdom

Information Age and the Loss of Wisdom
Turning information into knowledge can be quite excruciating...Photo by Monika

There are several definitions of the world information, but in everyday life it is equated with the communication, data, and knowledge. Any individual has to do with information in order to perceive outward things. It helps in correct assessment of events, making decisions, finding the better variant of actions. Intuitively people understand that information is supposed to be something that each of us improves our knowledge with.

Prae monitus prae munitus – forewarned is forearmed.

It is also one of the most powerful means of influence upon an individual and even society. The one who owns the largest amount of information on any specific matter would always be at vantage point comparing to others. Information allows reducing the level of vagueness on essence of any object, phenomenon or process. Therefore, information is also defined as the means of uncertainty elimination.

Information does not exist by itself, but always has the certain source it comes from and receiver it is perceived by. People receive information from many different sources: while reading books or listening to radio, watching TV, talking to others, viewing museum paintings, touching objects, tasting food.

It is interesting to note that different people tend to apprehend the same information in different ways.Concept of information is closely linked to the one of “data”, which is the raw material for obtaining information. The same data can provide different people different information: math book would give a lot of useful information to the mathematician, while biologist would put it aside as useless. The same TV show would become the source of mental pabulum for one, while the other takes nothing out of it. Data becomes information only when somebody becomes interested in it, in other words only used data can be considered information.

Information carries knowledge on surrounding world, which multiformity conditions its variety. For example there is information for narrow subject circles such as chemistry or biology. Such information is called scientific. Scientific information has its own language, for which understanding the specific knowledge is required.

Information can be measured in terms of richness of content, which is connected to changes of receiver’s level of ignorance. Information quality magnitude is defined by specific situations, when actuality and significance are very important or when accessibility and lucidity play the leading role. Representativeness and completeness of information are yet another very significant quality of information.

Any event simultaneously gives birth to the consequent information – real life representative within virtual life. Descriptive information on any event is the simples and way more complicated and useful is the information, which describes not a separate event, but the whole class of events, being resumptive and capable of predicting future events. A unit of resumptive information contains hundreds times more information than the unit of descriptive one for it is more condensed. This very type of information becomes the major marketable goods within conditions of information society. Information became humanity’s new resource, allowing development of highly efficient materials out of nothing.

For the thousand years of its existence the humanity collected huge amount of information, which keeps growing. Nowadays, volume of information doubles every two years and individual’s ability to grasp surrounding world heavily depends on his or her skill on receiving and process information. So called “data banks” collect and analyse information, but it does not mean that all information goes directly to them. Each and every person on the Earth has to process the lion’s share of it, which means they have to have respective consciousness. Therefore every next generation has more complex consciousness than the previous one, which is easily demonstrated by the language (being memory, hence information career) history.

From the early stage of language development, it has the function of objects’ signs. Word was replacing objects’ indications, when the object was not present. In the curse of time the number of such words became insufficient, which required keeping information on the whole group of objects in one word. Thisledtoaconsciousnesscomplication.However, this too became not sufficient with the time being. The necessity of the words indicating groups of groups of objects became a reality as well as necessity of the words-categories, words describing objects properties, language of metaphors etc. etc.

Although language is relatively simple information career, its absence makes it impossible to communicate (exchange information). Every language is the information receiving channel and modern people do not even suspect they master several different type of languages:  “elementary mathematical”, “written”, “spoken”, “body language”, “computer language” not to say anything about foreign languages. Pristine people could not even dream about such language diversity.

Information rushes to people through all these languages, gathering speed every year and with every new invention, such as telegraph, telephone, radio and finally internet. Thus acceleration of transfer and analysis of information makes every moment of time more intensive than the previous one. In this respect moments become shorter and every second more and more saturated. Modern people live more eventful lives filled with information (hence knowledge), than their counterparts of just several decades back.

Modern society following the rules of linear time, should ascertain the fact that this time is constantly increasing its speed. Although clocks keep counting out 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour and 24 hours per day, humanity tends to withdraw themselves from this rhythm. Stability resulting from the time rhythm, which is attributed to Silver and Golden Ages has long vanished. Whole generations of people, even those still living found themselves overboard of modern life simply because they are unwilling and sometimes even unable to keep up with the new pace and intensity provided by the fast changing information epoch.

Time acceleration, consolidating its grip on increase of rhythm, which people only could blame themselves about, makes it presence known in all spheres of human life; modern cities live became frantic, modern music is much faster and louder, speed limit for vehicles from 13 km/hr in 1960 became five times greater, even space is compressed, not to mention compression of literature texts – “Gonewiththewind” rhythm became simply old-fashioned.

The irony is, though, that the pace of information streams reached such speed that made it interrupted. Intermittence became the major characteristic of modern individual.Commercial video lasting just seconds is the best way of information feed nowadays, containing maximum data, which conciseness and concentration is striking. These several seconds have to contain presentation of value, beauty and reality and convince a potential buyer in necessity of these specific goods. Commercial completely corresponds with the modern people intermittent mentality, for its major function is to interrupt and build its positiveness on the devastation of integral picture. These several seconds are intermittent clots of time, possessing various saturation levels which depend on event solemnity and which allow coexistence of obviously incompatible opinions, positions and concepts.

Universalism and integrity of knowledge inherent to the Renaissance and German romantics of XIX century vanished from the face of the Earth. The volume of information increased in such proportion, that it made it impossible to get the total knowledge of even one area of human activities.  Modern people awareness is forced to adapt itself to the intermittence of culture thus forming its own inner intermittence and intermittence of knowledge as it is literally impossible to obtain the whole picture in the condition of the acute shortage of time. In its stead modern people receives fragmentary knowledge on various subjects, forming mosaic image of the world.

“Momentary devices and information abundance, which influences humanity via internet, might affect intellectual processes preventing deep thinking and understanding, hindering memories formations and making difficulties for education process. It is the condition of “cognitive overload” as mentions Eric Schmidt, executive director of Google, “which reduces information retention possibility, does not allowing connection of memories, experiences, which are kept in long memory, leaving thoughts “thin and scattered”. All the above is reflected within educational processes.

Although, it is still very important what a person had already learnt, the more important is how quickly a person is able to learn again, change and adapt to the new information. Almost worldwide accessibility of internet with its huge amount of quickly becoming out of date and constantly renewable information prevents individual from getting knowledge for they know that they would easily be able to get information on any subject at the blink of the cursor. So why bother with acknowledging themselves and “cluttering up” their brains?

Turning information into knowledge can be quite excruciating, for it is not mechanical process and requires not only memorizing, but also understanding. The major differences of knowledge from information are in its basic properties: structuredness, convenience of access and digestion of knowledge, brevity, consistency, trustworthiness, and analysis inside person’s brain, not inside his or her computer.

Although information is abandon, we cannot say the same about knowledge. Vast majority of people, specialist as well as dilettantes interpret knowledge as certain high level of information; broad, complex, aggregate. “Knowledge” of information can be easily demonstrated by statement, while real knowledge can only be demonstrated by action. It is also necessary to know how, not only why and what.

There are several easy steps which would help to turn information into knowledge. First of all it is necessary to Define the task: what is it, what information do you have about the subject, what other information do you need to obtain. The second step it to Locate information: where can you get additional information and what would be the key words associated with the topic of interest. Analyze and structure it: is information you already have or are just obtaining relevant, accurate and unbiased, is there enough information, what is irrelevant and needs to be eliminated, how to group and subgroup the information you have obtained. Identify the ways of your data and information presentation: which form to choose for the better presentation of the information – text, table, graph, book, speech. And last, but not least reckon up: what did you learn from the above steps, which will help you to complete similar task quicker and better

I trust these easy steps will help you not only collect information, but also to get knowledge.

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