"We have confused knowing more with knowing better. The exponential growth of scientific knowledge made possible by trading breadth for depth is accompanied by the exponential growth of ignorance of how all scientific findings fit together into one known reality."
— Our War on Ourselves: Rethinking Science, Technology, and Economic Growth (p. 58) by Willem H. Vanderburg
I will never be a brain surgeon, and I will never play the piano like Glenn Gould.
But what keeps me up late at night, and constantly gives me reason to fret, is this: I don’t know what I don’t know. There are universes of things out there — ideas, philosophies, songs, subtleties, facts, emotions — that exist but of which I am totally and thoroughly unaware. This makes me very uncomfortable. I find that the only way to find out the fuller extent of what I don’t know is for someone to tell me, teach me or show me, and then open my eyes to this bit of information, knowledge, or life experience that I, sadly, never before considered.
Afterward, I find something odd happens. I find what I have just learned is suddenly everywhere: on billboards or in the newspaper or SMACK: Right in front of me, and I can’t help but shake my head and speculate how and why I never saw or knew this particular thing before. And I begin to wonder if I could be any different, smarter, or more interesting had I discovered it when everyone else in the world found out about this particular obvious thing. I have been thinking a lot about these first discoveries and also those chance encounters: those elusive happenstances that often lead to defining moments in our lives.
I once read that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I fundamentally disagree with this idea. I think that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of hope. We might keep making mistakes but the struggle gives us a sense of empathy and connectivity that we would not experience otherwise. I believe this empathy improves our ability to see the unseen and better know the unknown.
Lives are shaped by chance encounters and by discovering things that we don’t know that we don’t know. The arc of a life is a circuitous one. … In the grand scheme of things, everything we do is an experiment, the outcome of which is unknown.
You never know when a typical life will be anything but, and you won’t know if you are rewriting history, or rewriting the future, until the writing is complete.
“some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it without knowing what’s going to happen next. delicious ambiguity…”
“I am a working chemist at the National Research Council’s Human Health Therapeutics Portfolio and an aspiring librarian with a strong interest for the arts and humanities. My biggest passion in life is to learn from others’ perspectives while constantly reevaluating my own. Much like walking through an art gallery and being confronted by perplexing artworks, it is delightful to discover the world anew from a different angle. In the advent of new technologies and social media, how can we become more engaged with the overwhelming amount of information out there? How can we shape today’s education system to better prepare our children for the future? My various tutoring and volunteering experiences have taught me that true innovations germinate from where one can freely explore opposing ideas and alternatives. As we navigate through the sea of data and misinformation in the 21st century, it is my firm conviction that libraries will play a vital role in helping us to connect the dots over the ever-changing knowledge creation process.”
Regardless of whether I get to attend this TEDx event, this much is clear to me now. Better save up for my MLIS…
“Senator Eugene McCarthy once compared the journalists covering his 1968 presidential campaign to birds on a telephone wire. When one got up to fly to a different wire, they’d all follow. When another flew back, the rest would too. Today this metaphor needs an update. The birds still follow one another’s leads just as eagerly-but the wire need not always exist. They can be and often are perched on illusions…”
- Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday Ch 16. The Link Economy: The Leveraged Illusion of Sourcing (p. 153)
“Social media isn’t a set of tools to allow humans to communicate with humans. It is a set of embedding mechanisms to allow technologies to use humans to communicate with each other, in an orgy of self-organizing… The Matrix had it wrong. You’re not the battery power in a global, human-enslaving AI, you are slightly more valuable. You are part of the switching circuitry.”
– Venkatesh Rao, “The Greasy, Fix-It ‘Web of Intent’ Vision”, http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2010/08/17/the-greasy-fix-it-web-of-intent-vision/