I have a love-hate relationship with the internet.  In all honesty it is probably more jealousy than anything else but let me explain.

When I was in college the school I attended had what they professed to be one of the “top ten” libraries in the nation.  It’s quite a claim but I never questioned it.  Given my area of study I spent long hours in this cathedral of books working diligently to achieve a mediocre grade average.  Exceptionally average in every way… anyway it was my junior year when computers hit the main stream and the internet started worming its way into our lives.  Always being slow on the uptake I didn’t adopt this crazy new computer magic.  In full disclosure, I used a word processor and watched fractals on my roommate’s G4 but never really engaged.  Stupid, stupid, stupid!

So making a long story longer it is jealousy.  Now I dream of what I could have done in school had I had access to all of the beautiful information at the click of button.  Instead I spent hours upon hours reading endless amounts of information that never made it into my papers.  What certainly amounts to years of my life reading tomes better measured stacked and in “inches high” than pages.  A bottomless pit of obscure crap of which I have probably forgotten more of than employed in any gainful way.  Get the point?  That elegant fountain of research, the internet, would have allowed me to party my ass off and hang out with millions of chicks, spend every long weekend in Mexico… actually I did these things, may be not the chicks, and my grades were probably accurate in every way.  But this brings me to my point.

We have entered into the Cliff-Wiki generation.  The sleek, high-powered fire hydrant of answers is making us stupid.  There is an entire generation of people who have had their exposure to the great minds and concepts boiled down to what us old timers called Cliffnotes.  This new form of knowledge is found in Wikipedia just as it was in Cliffnotes.  The old excuse was “we have too much to read in a few days so I read the Cliffnotes for the test”.  The new excuse is “I have 3 more levels to go on Halo, I have to update my Facebook page and watch this movie I downloaded so I went to Wikipedia to read up on Hayak”.  Unfortunately, all of the information gleaned seems to be from “digested” sources rather than going to the actual works in question.  Sadly, it shows.

Now from the news we consume to our daily conversations seem pre-digested, shallow and poorly thought out.  I think there is very little, if any, new thought in regard to politics, economics and society.  In other words it has all been said before.  But this generation thinks they invented it… and from their perspective they have.  Since they have never been introduced to the great minds and high concepts of the best and brightest who happen to be dead they see themselves as the originators of brilliance.  In fact I have heard them discount ideas they are wholly unfamiliar with as “outdated” and “no longer valid” because they were “old”.  We live a modern world don’t you know…  It also escapes them that those very words have been spoken for a thousand years and will be spoken for a thousand more.

It is to our own detriment that we allow this to continue to be the norm by not challenging those around us to higher expectations.  The founders of this country expected all of us to sit in the pub, get drunk, and talk about politics and religion.  Now we seem unable to get past the drinking part.  Well… that’s probably more about me.

I blame the internet.  Like a fickle temptress I can’t live without… I love to hate her, I hate to love her.  I’m going to cut this short, I have to finish Battle Field 3.


About Mike

Background is in Media with a little History Major thrown in just to be annoying. View all posts by Mike

One response to “Cliff-Wiki

  • Adam

    That was a pretty good one.

    The counter-argument to electronically available information (and I don’t mean just the internet, but things like advanced calculators, word processors, etc.) is that expectations are, or at least could be, higher and you can cover a lot more breadth without having to spend the hours filtering out the irrelevant.

    In engineering school, for example, the old-timer professors said many of the problems in the old days were sculpted to make them easier to do on a slide rule. With calculators they didn’t have to worry about that anymore. Of course, we lost some of the ability to do it on our heads like they could.

    Same with reports. With computers, the formatting, citations, spelling, etc. were expected to be PERFECT. No white-out, or half-filled page inserted somewhere.

    Is the wiki really that much worse than the Cliff’s notes?


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