Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Knowledge and Wikipedia

So today, Wikipedia has created a blackout on their website to raise awareness of and opposition to the SOPA and PIPA bills that are being debated in the House and Senate. I understand that Obama intends to veto them if they make it to his desk, so I'm not particularly worried about anything to begin with.

I don't feel like taking the time to study the legal intricacies of what these involve, but I believe it has to do with fighting internet piracy. I think the desire there is good, but the implementation apparently isn't.

It really caught my attention when Wikipedia put this image up on their website that says, "Imagine a world without free knowledge."

I'll be the first to say how much I enjoy having online access to all sorts of helpful information. But it alarmed me to think that we've all become so dependent on the internet to tell us what we know, that we've stopped even considering other sources of knowledge. So much of my life is stored in my online accounts. 

But I've also been fairly deliberate about having some non-electronic means of recording and remembering what's important to me. Part of why I've blogged less the last couple of years is because I write fairly regularly in a journal. (I'm actually on my second one.) I have a separate journal where I've started writing down bits of things that I want to learn and remember. I may make a post explaining my method there some time.

This idea of "all knowledge comes from the internet" has me thinking a lot about just how much we feed ourselves from one source, in comparison to how much we feed on the word of God, and how much we ponder what we could be learning from our life's experiences. I'm challenging myself here with the content of Psalm 19, which describes some sources of meaningful knowledge that are neglected too often these days:

Psalm 19
    For the director of music. A psalm of David.
 1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
   the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
   night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
   no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
   their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
 5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
   like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
   and makes its circuit to the other;
   nothing is deprived of its warmth.
 7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
   refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
   making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
   giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
   giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
   enduring forever.
The decrees of the LORD are firm,
   and all of them are righteous.
 10 They are more precious than gold,
   than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
   than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
   in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern their own errors?
   Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
   may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
   innocent of great transgression.
 14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
   be pleasing in your sight,
   LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.


  1. The Internet is like any other tool. People had the same reaction when writing was invented, I'm sure. "How can you put everything you know on those tablets, you won't remember it. You should just memorize it all." Then when the printing press came along it was the same story. The Internet increases the scale of the issue, but it's not really a different issue. We will always need to balance what we memorize, what we write and what we keep in other forms.

    The real test of human intelligence isn't the ability to recall disparate facts at a moment's notice, but to know which facts are important enough to remember and how to combine ideas to form something greater.

  2. Well said, James. I am a fan of having as much knowledge as I can. Wisdom and knowledge are not necessarily the same. Discernment will be the biggest challenge for this upcoming generation, as I perceive it.

  3. Feasting on the word of God is one of the best things we can do to stay sharp and prepared to engage the world. Not just to quote Scripture - because how effective will that be to people who don't believe it's inspired? - but to tell and retell the story as needed in various ways.