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Are We More Knowledgeable?

February 20, 2008

Are we more knowledgeable?

Recently I have been reading Frank Websters book Theories of the Information Society, 3e, Routledge, London, 2006.  As I read the material in Webster, pp 25-30 I asked myself; ‘As our “society” has amassed greater information and knowledge, have we as members of smaller groups of society and as individuals equally grown in knowledge?’  I define knowledge as the use or application of information; and define information as bare data that floats about in space until called upon for use. 

Not that I am especially opposed to our president in the totality of his office, but the second paragraph of page 28 causes me to think of many of our leaders, society figures (whether B. Speers or one of the many heads of state), and frankly individuals.  Please note that I am not picking on the president, he only happens to be the one our author noted.  J 

We could speak of A. Hitler, Dan Quayle (remember him) or Osama BenLaden to name only a few of vast numbers of people who have or have had vast amounts of information at hand.  The same is with forms of bureaucracies and organizations.  For example the Sierra Club (of whom I find many of their endeavors fundamentally important to our ecological future) for years filed law suits in California and staged demonstrations to protect the natural forestation and grasslands of the state.  Their argument was that dead plant material should be left in place after a plant died.  This they logically stated allowed for small animal habitat which supports the ecosystem.  In short, that is the way nature meant it to be, so we should not change the natural role of the ecosystem.  Many scientists on both sides of the issue of the conservation issue testified for and against the use of “controlled burns” to help preserve the ecology of the state while simultaneously protecting human life from devastating uncontrolled wildfire if undergrowth (fire kindling) was allowed to increase in underdeveloped areas where suburbs were encroaching.  All of this testimony was based upon “information”, but arguably not all information was used productively in a knowledgeable fashion.  

In turn it is now argued that the devastating wildfires of California and adjoining states relates back to the huge percentage of dry fuel concentrated in the areas where the Sierra Club was successful in its mission in not disturbing nature.  Just an example. 

My point, the amount of information available need not necessarily lead to the ‘best’ use of that information.  While I agree that numerical analysis for classifications ICT’s has important use I tend to side (at this point) with the quality definitions.  That means we must establish some base line to measure accuracy.  Right?

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