Students in college and high school, in America, of all places, are at least subconsciously taught that what others think isn’t good knowledge – not even when its gift wrapped in convenience and laced with cautions.
The default is to assume that what others understand in meaning and intent is, at its root, unreliable.
Online resources like Wikipedia are basically wrong and not worth using — not trustworthy — because they rely on the fluidity of knowledge and concepts. Not being set in cement (or carved on a tablet?) makes ideas fundamentally weak and unusable. Only when the substance is settled do we dare footnote it in our papers or into history. Knowledge that moves and subject to the input of all is dangerous.
This must be a strange reality to those who have sought to Wiki-erize our world of searches. Their assumption seems to be that interactive knowing is just the opposite; that there is value and added worth in the ever moving wisdom of the crowds! To these types of folks in the pathways of open InterWebs, knowledge gets better because we all give a part of our take to its meaning and purpose.
As a person who ghosts my way through academic writing now and then — as I do with business assignment too — I often confront explicit directives NOT to use information extracted from encyclopedic sources of this nature. People in the “know” of these assignments take it as a given that moving knowledge from virtual spaces like these is bad, wrong, unreliable.
I couldn’t disagree more. And, in an ideal world, I’d fight all the harder for this point. Assignments that learn to use fast-moving data learn to build a better outcome.
I actually think more people should confront this sense of fatalism about every-changing knowledge. Doesn’t this fear of flexible understanding directly undercut what intelligence and learning are all about?
A strange starting point this phobia, if you ask me; for these are the very sectors that should be dedicated to the variabilities of the young, impressionable and wannabe profitable.
Shouldn’t we want such folks to crave the excitement of mobile clarity – clarity that changes with more input? Of knowledge that gets better, that matures, with time and practice?
As we mature as people and become proficient cashiers to the bottom line of consumerism, we should want to know what lies beneath and around the bight of the information river we’re navigating.
But instead, those who challenge this avenue of evolving information push us (the future generations often) away from these promising dynamics. We’re taught that using ever-changing knowledge as it grows and evolves is a bad thing; that its best to place our bets on awarenesses that are fixed in the here and now – a very conservative and disempowering prospect.
We need not fear the knowledge and understanding of others. We should actually celebrate all of its uncertain Wikiness!
Teachers. Business bosses. Let your people play with the change we cannot escape. Let them use the most dynamic resources that we have, no matter what they are called.
It’s not radical if the idea is right, and its all the righter when that idea is build on moving and growing awareness. The knowledge of others has a part to play. No need to fear the Wiki.