Knowledge and Focus

June 4, 2010 | By | 1 Reply More

At Edge.com, Researcher David Dalrymple discusses the effect of the Internet on knowledge and focus:

Before the Internet, most professional occupations required a large body of knowledge, accumulated over years or even decades of experience. But now, anyone with good critical thinking skills and the ability to focus on the important information can retrieve it on demand from the Internet, rather than her own memory. On the other hand, those with wandering minds, who might once have been able to focus by isolating themselves with their work, now often cannot work without the Internet, which simultaneously furnishes a panoply of unrelated information — whether about their friends’ doings, celebrity news, limericks, or millions of other sources of distraction. The bottom line is that how well an employee can focus might now be more important than how knowledgeable he is. Knowledge was once an internal property of a person, and focus on the task at hand could be imposed externally, but with the Internet, knowledge can be supplied externally, but focus must be forced internally.

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Category: Education, ignorance, Internet

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Dan Klarmann says:

    I may belong to a third group: Those whose continual wanderings fill the head with stuff that we later retrieve in apparently unconnected situations to have ready solutions. This is my main utility to employers. Former loose focus grants present wide knowledge.

    I used to get lost in encyclopaedia references and card catalogs. It's just faster with the web. Plus learning how to filter out all the junk.

    Common response: "I'm not lost; I'm exploring."

    It may be childhood training that allows me to widen my view without actually losing overall focus: Zoom out to fish-eye. Sure, the specific topic at hand may dwindle infinitesimally, but it is still in view.

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