I’ve written previously about the Noösphere and the ever-wonderful ways by which humanity is collecting, organizing and distributing information throughout the intricately innumerable networks that overlay our existence.
Bandwidth is proliferating at a tremendous pace as information is being evaporated and stored in bountiful cloud systems; and as access itself cascades upon new echelons of humanity, fresh generations and untapped regions, humanity is poised to enter a new era unlike any other we’ve experienced.
This post isn’t going to present anything new apart from, possibly, a different way of looking at our relationship with information. This is more so about polishing the silver-lining to our propagating capacity to sift through the infinitude of knowledge, to tap into veins of organized intellect and revere our privileged, truly privileged, position. It’s about our ever-increasing ability to expand on these information circles constructed over time and our ability (if not obligation) to contribute towards years, decades or centuries worth of efforts that have been laid down before us.
“The problems are solved, not by giving new information, but by arranging what we have known since long.” –Ludwig Wittgenstein
It’s a fascinating reality — we don’t need a PhD or some sort of lofty specialization in a particular field in order to contribute or relate to it today. We have access to every concept, every idea, every theory, every hypothesis that has had the fortune of being recorded throughout history. Countless predecessors have come before us to organize certain notions into volumes, indexing and cataloging, developing and magnifying, extrapolating and clarifying.
And now, here we are.
We’ve all spent some time building upon the work of another. In fact, this is exactly how knowledge is supposed to work: folding itself over time as certain minds come along to make sense of things or discover the unknown. This isn’t anything new of a revelation.
What’s truly amazing is our current position atop this apex of data. The last few decades have seen a burst of potential as, upload after upload, all collective knowledge weaved through human history has digitalized and been made available to anyone with a WiFi signal. As remarkable as this is, why spend time writing about it?
Because with this new reality comes a new ability that we ought to never take for granted. Searching for and filtering this data is now an activity, a skill — and a rewarding one at that. Beyond this, some can say it’s a newfangled obligation that we ought to undertake in order to make use of our advantageous situation.
“Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” – T.S. Eliot
We can take the example of someone aspiring to become a professional triathlete. Only a few short decades ago, if an individual wanted to become the best triathlete in the country, they’d have to rely on mouth-to-ear methods of acquiring information with the occasional literary help. Today, it’s a wholly different landscape. Not only can this aspiring modern triathlete lean on the published accounts of other triathletes, but they can also sort through countless physiological studies and findings that seek to optimize their physical performance. They can look at diet and nutrition, recovery practices, training regimens, proper gear and equipment. They can watch videos, read, understand, connect to others and contribute. They can follow opportunities that had not been fathomable previously, join discussions, become an expert in themselves, teach others and develop an entire living around this one passion.
In the way that information technology has bifurcated under its own potential, so too can we under the weight of our own capability and prospect as we maximize our knowledge.
We can learn anything we want to learn. This is nothing new of a paradigm but, perhaps, we should consider our position a little more thoroughly. We can become experts, advisers, entrepreneurs in ways never before thought possible.
We can solve problems that we never thought we could solve and include all the minds of the world on our journeys toward resolutions.
“When we have all data online it will be great for humanity. It is a prerequisite to solving many problems that humankind faces.” — Robert Cailliau
There are unfinished conversations from decades ago that we can join in on; there exist innumerable problems that remain unsolved and invite our prodding; there are countless ways by which our content can influence new streams or re-introduce old flames.
All this to say that we’re now in a far better position to evolve with knowledge, to leverage it towards our interests and our own ventures.
But there’s always a catch.
Maybe, now, we’re out of excuses. How can we allow ourselves to stagnate in a certain occupation when we have so many opportunities at our disposal — learning to become an entrepreneur is easier than ever before.
Maybe now we don’t deserve pardons for hiding behind an insufficiency of information, whether that information can help us develop ourselves or defend the world from our influences. How long can we turn a blind eye to unethical or destructive practices? How long can we sit around and pity ourselves for not making the most of these opportunities?
Yes, it’s a loud and fast-paced world filled with incessant noise that we have to work around, and at present time the landscape remains rather messy and disorganized, but it’s nevertheless worth the amplitude of bountiful prospect.
To reiterate, this isn’t anything new of a revelation — this is about veneration and, perhaps, obligation. This is optimistic hope injected into a sometimes dark world, one that remains at our fingertips — but not for long.
For it’s abundantly true that some equations are absolute and irrefutable, and one such formulaic universal truth is that knowledge is always going to equate to power.