Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Information Is Not Knowledge

We get so much information that it even scanning through it takes an enormous amount of time. The only way to cope with it is to choose what parts of the information flow are really useful or interesting to you.

The Internet has changed the world profoundly, giving us access to tons of information. It is like having our own personal reference librarian at our fingertips, yet search results can be bewildering. You know that feeling when you search for something and google comes back with thousands of pages that relate to your search?

Yet, the very speed and ease of circulating information makes it easy for someone to put up information that is false or misleading, and if it circulates widely and rapidly enough some people will accept it as truth simply because they see references to it in lots of places.

So it is up to the person who is searching to survey vast amounts of data to try and determine what is actually true. It often takes a sharp eye and a perceptive mind to distinguish hype from reliable data.

In among the facts will also be some very thought provoking opinions, and there are times when these will be valuable to us.

It is tempting to confuse information with knowledge. Here is how I differentiate. If you have real life experience of how something works because you have the experience you have done it yourself, or you have used a product or gone to an event, this is knowledge. It is information that is combined with your real life experience.

There are times when information is enough, and there are times when it really is knowledge we seek. Have you ever thought about this? Are you aware of when one will suffice and when only the other will do?

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