Harvard’s David Weinberger has a new book out — Too Big To Know — that tackles the question of the Internet’s effect on our perceptions of knowledge and what it’s doing to our minds. He mentions what he calls “the smartest guys in the room” metaphor, where knowledge was used to stratify people. That’s outdated, he says. Now it’s the room that’s smart and advantage goes to those who know how to filter and use the data.
David and I worked on a conference in Hong Kong years ago, just after The Cluetrain Manifesto came out. He’s one of the best thinkers on the Internet there is. Great interview with him in Salon, which you can read here.
Ask anybody who is in any of the traditional knowledge fields, and she or he will very likely tell you that the Internet has made them smarter. They couldn’t do their work without it; they’re doing it better than ever before, they know more; they can find more; they can run down dead ends faster than ever before. In the sciences and humanities, it’s hard to find somebody who claims the Internet is making him or her stupid, even among those who claim the Internet is making us stupid. And I believe this is the greatest time in human history.
I share that belief. For all the serious problems we may face today, there has never been a time when we had more tools and opportunity to solve them.