Monday, November 1, 2010

In Passing

Data and information are not synonymous.  Information is not knowledge.  Knowledge is not wisdom.

At least according to the traditional ways in which these terms have been defined. 

But as we ride the spasms of the google-wiki-facebook-twitter-ipad technophile orgasm, the once-clear distinctions among these terms have blurred.  We no longer recognize either knowledge or wisdom as something separate from data and information.  Knowledge is equated with data and wisdom is reduced to the capacity to access information—and both are for sale, distilled and encapsulated in the latest smartphone app.  We have become a people for whom wisdom (in the older sense of the term) has no place, living in a culture for which knowledge (the ability to put information to meaningful use) serves no real purpose.

We’ve been here before.  We’ve been through a perhaps equally dramatic although not quite as ostentatious transition: the transition from the oral tradition to writing gave us a technologically mediated memory—far more accurate and efficient, but also somehow less human.

To what is our present technological transition leading?  What of ourselves have we already naively discarded along the way?  What will emerge from the escalating infiltration of technological mediation in all regions of experience, a mediation that permeates our personal relationships, modulates our feelings, and makes private thought a redundancy?  

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