Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The font of all knowledge

Like most small children, I was curious about everything. I remember interrogating my family and particularly, my Dad, about all sorts of subjects.

I remember when I was little, walking along the street and eating an ice cream and asking him about the war memorial in the park, about why there were so many more names from the First World War than the Second. The answer was that technology changed so fewer soldiers got killed. That led to a whole bunch of other questions - I can't remember what, but I'm sure some must have only been tangentially connected to the original question.

I was thinking about this the other day. I had a bizarre argument with my husband about whether Bonn was in the old West or East Germany. It turned out I was right - I checked on my smartphone. Which I do every time I have a factual question. And if, as so often happens, the answer leads to another question, I click on another link. And waste enormous amounts of time in reading up on stuff that is far removed from the original thing I looked up.

I suppose the point is that when I was growing up, you had to carry information around in your head, like my Dad did. But when the Boy is old enough to ask me about a whole load of different things, I'll be able to check on my phone. Or be able to download an internet page directly into our brains, or something.

It's much easier, and accurate, to be able to check for sure. But, at the same time, I think it'll be a bit of a cop-out. It's much more impressive to know and be able to have a conversation - or at least be able to make up a plausible fudge!

Maybe people in the future will have to spend more time actually learning to talk to each other, rather than learning facts?

1 comment:

  1. It's hard to know isn't it? Because people now text each other rather than picking up the phone and, you know, talking to each other. It is a big change though - now if we don't know something, one of us will grab the iPad and immediately look it up. It's rare that we have to say "I've always wondered ..." anymore, because we don't have to wonder. We can just Google.

    PS. I feel old. My first trip to Europe (1991)I visited Bonn where all the embassies were still based before they moved to Berlin.