We Don’t Know Anything..?

…well, maybe some of us do. But Carr brought up an excellent point in his book when he mentions the two types of knowledge any man can posses. The first, knowing a topic or idea outright; and the second, possessing the knowledge of how to find out the appropriate information about that topic or idea.

Carr argues that given the world wide web, the latter mode of ‘knowing’ things is far more prevalent. And I’m inclined to agree.

What does the internet afford us after all? I’d argue it gives us unlimited information (admittedly, right and wrong) about seemingly anything and everything. If you take a second to think about that, I think you will be as startled as I am. I mean, you can literally look up anything and have at least an idea of any topic.

Now, here is where I’d like to draw some of my own boundaries. While it is true that we can become relatively knowledgeable about most any topic, that is not to say every person can know any topic solely from scouring on Web (online college courses/degrees excluded). An example I like to use is patients who think websites written by unqualified parties can give them all the same information as a primary care physician. As a millennial I can understand a patient’s confidence in his or her own Google search about let’s say cancer and the benefits of eating salted beets to treat it. People can be damn convincing from behind a screen. However, as someone who will be a future physician, I have more appreciation for the 8+ years of higher education and training all current and future doctors go through to truly understand the workings of the body and the proper treatments of diseases.

Bottom line is this: Do I see the internet as a tool for my future success? Absolutely. Having the vast information highway at my disposal will be invaluable in my career; I’ve seen doctors use their smartphones to double check prescription doses, or look up common symptoms. BUT, I also would be wary of the false sense of confidence the internet can provide and the proliferation of misinformation that accompanies it.

So I think the smartest people in the future won’t simply be those with photographic memories and a knack for remembering details; but those who can appreciate and thrive on a delicate balance between knowing things through formal structure and how and when to apply information they find elsewhere.

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By rohpatel

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