Is Knowledge Being Devalued and Does That Hurt Society?

In this country and in this era, it is taken for granted that one will go to college for an education. Five-hundred years ago, this was not the case. In fact, not only was a college education uncommon, the style of the education was vastly different. In his article From Gutenberg to the Internet Jeremy Norman discusses how at least one school of Oxford contained benches only, and not desks. Written works were scarce and could usually be no more than borrowed. Students were expected to memorize and regurgitate with little to no aid of such works. Such a practice is nearly unimaginable by today’s standards. However, with the invention of the printing press, that changed (albeit very slowly). Now, we find ourselves in an era of abundant books, electronic devices, and the internet. However, is it possible that such a technological advancement is becoming a hindrance to society? Nearly anyone can go to college and almost any information can be found in a few keystrokes. Knowledge seems to be stored less in one’s brain and more in a keyboard. One could argue that knowledge is actually little known.

Now some would argue that memorization, as was done hundreds of years ago, is not indicative of intelligence. I might even be inclined to agree. However, I also think that having little knowledge stored in our heads and only on electronic devices makes for a dangerous turn. If information is so easily accessed, what is the value in knowing it? Hundreds of years ago, to have the opportunity to attend college, and to have a printed work, was unique. Now it is taken for granted. All-accessible information fuels a society of instant gratification. No doubt it is convenient, even valuable, to be able to look up information at will. But when it gets to the point that information is no longer known, but looked up, it becomes problematic. The ability to communicate and interact becomes hindered and society as a whole becomes affected. Knowledge is a good thing, but the laws of supply and demand still hold. A glut of information decreases its value.

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4 thoughts on “Is Knowledge Being Devalued and Does That Hurt Society?

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  1. Although that I agree with your statement that knowledge know seems to be found in a few keystrokes, I would also have to say that this is what makes our generation so smart and advanced. Although like you said, technology and Internet makes it easy for anyone to find information, I have found that it will still not get them as far as going to college, at least in my experience. In the graphic design section of the ‘art world’ there are so many different areas to study, as an undergrad I found myself taking classes in all areas, web design, print design, multimedia, etc. But what I later learned is that in order to stand out and become great at what I do, I need to not only have knowledge in several areas but I also need to have a concentration in an area I want to work strongly in. College has allowed me to develop skills in a particular area. Without technology I wouldn’t be learning on my own, outside of the classroom, I am not dependent on my professors. I think what is important is what you do with the knowledge, skills, and experiences learned in your college career.

    I can also say with experience that I know of several self-taught students that are ‘non traditional’ students, meaning they are above the average age of students. These students are typically coming back to expand their knowledge in an area that they could not develop enough in the ‘real world’. Learning outside of the college was possible for them, but they could not gain skills fast enough or well enough than those that had attended school.

    I think when you say ” The ability to communicate and interact becomes hindered and society as a whole becomes affected”, this can be talked about further and even have some examples shown to prove your facts. Your overall post could use some support and examples on how you think technology hinders knowledge. I think this could be a strong essay, especially because we pay so much money for this education that it could leave us to question what we pay for.

    Great choice in topic! I’d love to see if you went further with this essay.

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  2. I am inclined to agree with you on your points. First, and foremost, I do believe that the concept of knowledge has changed, from knowing things, to being able to know things. This is in part due to the proliferation of technology, the internet, and the easy access to information. I would also argue though, that it is also due to how are standards in education have changed. Schools now, even higher academia like colleges, value the regurgitation of knowledge more than learning. Standardized testing has become the norm, and they themselves are not indicative of intelligence. The result is a generation of people who can recite things they have memorized, without ever having to know the meaning behind it.

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  3. Is it the actual knowledge that can be contained within a memory, or is it the ability to be able to research and know the right phrases to search for, or even on the right databases? Maybe college isn’t necessarily what the rich alone go to (though it still is very true) but still there are practical things that books and other such manuscripts can teach us. Mechanics, handiwork with a needle, fitness. Such things as that can be contained on the internet instead of in a laborious handwritten manuscript.
    I would like if you could elaborate on the problematic-ness of the ability to look up information. Even though I have a miniature computer constantly on my hip, I will still ask questions of those around me. You can’t google everything. And for instance, I work as a receptionist in the Compass of SUNY Oswego, and people will come in for questions that I’m able to find the answer too by pulling up the right links. Does that make them smarter than me, because they come in searching for an answer, or does that make us on level ground because we both don’t know the answer and I need to research the proper networks to discover the correct information?

    To make your article stronger, I would take out the constant assumption of some people. Be assertive in in what you write. Also, it would be nice if you could provide backup for your arguments, and resources. I also don’t understand how supply and demand come into play with this.
    So in sum: Be assertive in your writing. Don’t make generalizations. And do a little extra resource. I believe this is a good debate topic, as you can tell from the beginning of my argument on here.

    Kirsten

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  4. I’m really glad someone picked up on this important question: are there ways in which more information is a challenge, not just a gift?

    You might look into arguments about the challenge of learning how to sift information. In education, the need to teach young students how to edit the constant stream of information in a meaningful way is becoming an ever-more important task.

    In future blog posts, be sure to add a link or visual to make use of the digital publishing format.

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