I came across an interesting article this morning at the NYT titled The Elusive Big Idea. Some of the interesting, thought provoking quotes are:
“If our ideas seem smaller nowadays, it’s not because we are dumber than our forebears but because we just don’t care as much about ideas as they did. In effect, we are living in an increasingly post-idea world — a world in which big, thought-provoking ideas that can’t instantly be monetized are of so little intrinsic value that fewer people are generating them and fewer outlets are disseminating them, the Internet notwithstanding.”
“It is no secret, especially here in America, that we live in a post-Enlightenment age in which rationality, science, evidence, logical argument and debate have lost the battle in many sectors, and perhaps even in society generally, to superstition, faith, opinion and orthodoxy. While we continue to make giant technological advances, we may be the first generation to have turned back the epochal clock — to have gone backward intellectually from advanced modes of thinking into old modes of belief. But post-Enlightenment and post-idea, while related, are not exactly the same.
Post-Enlightenment refers to a style of thinking that no longer deploys the techniques of rational thought. Post-idea refers to thinking that is no longer done, regardless of the style.”
“The real cause may be information itself. It may seem counterintuitive that at a time when we know more than we have ever known, we think about it less.
We live in the much vaunted Age of Information. Courtesy of the Internet, we seem to have immediate access to anything that anyone could ever want to know. We are certainly the most informed generation in history, at least quantitatively. There are trillions upon trillions of bytes out there in the ether — so much to gather and to think about.”
“In effect, we are living within the nimbus of an informational Gresham’s law in which trivial information pushes out significant information, but it is also an ideational Gresham’s law in which information, trivial or not, pushes out ideas.
We prefer knowing to thinking because knowing has more immediate value. It keeps us in the loop, keeps us connected to our friends and our cohort. Ideas are too airy, too impractical, too much work for too little reward. Few talk ideas. Everyone talks information, usually personal information. Where are you going? What are you doing? Whom are you seeing? These are today’s big questions.”
“The implications of a society that no longer thinks big are enormous. Ideas aren’t just intellectual playthings. They have practical effects.”
“No doubt there will be those who say that the big ideas have migrated to the marketplace, but there is a vast difference between profit-making inventions and intellectually challenging thoughts. Entrepreneurs have plenty of ideas, and some, like Steven P. Jobs of Apple, have come up with some brilliant ideas in the “inventional” sense of the word.
Still, while these ideas may change the way we live, they rarely transform the way we think. They are material, not ideational. It is thinkers who are in short supply, and the situation probably isn’t going to change anytime soon.
We have become information narcissists, so uninterested in anything outside ourselves and our friendship circles or in any tidbit we cannot share with those friends that if a Marx or a Nietzsche were suddenly to appear, blasting his ideas, no one would pay the slightest attention, certainly not the general media, which have learned to service our narcissism.
What the future portends is more and more information — Everests of it. There won’t be anything we won’t know. But there will be no one thinking about it.
Think about that.”
2 cents: While reading this article, two Bible verses came to mind.
But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. (Daniel 12:4 KJV)
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away….Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
(2 Timothy 3:1-5, 7 KJV)
In the above quotes I underlined a few words and phrases.
I find myself struggling with information overload and a lot if not most of it, is usually of no real value. The concept of studying about a subject, pouring over it to learn, grasp and be a master of a subject has given way to typing into what you think is the most powerful search engine so as to give you the information you wanted before and simply bookmark it so if you need you can get to it. My bookmarkers are like my bookshelves in that they are buy genre but unlike my books a lot of them I have not read. They are saved in the event. The goal to increase my exposure and reach to information and data, yet little processing has occurred. What has ended up happening is exposure not saturation. Surface level not depth. If one does not have saturation and depth, then how can one speak or think and develop ideas? The result – instead – is opinion. Let’s be honest, we know the analogy about opinions. What makes one’s opinion of real value is that it is based on knowledge, understanding and experience.
From an eternal perspective the verses point to the reality that though information increases, the people are further from the truth and understanding it. The majority of the human race that even believes in an afterlife and eternity has decided their opinion is what counts and if there is a supreme being then that being will have to take their opinion into account and that it will matter. But the truth is He will take it into account and its matter will be that it was incorrect and now the human being faces an eternity in a place that no person in their right mind would want to even spend a minute in it and yet they will now reside and endure life there forever.
John 8:32: And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
John 14:6: Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
John 17:17: Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
2Peter 2:2: And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.