Quick...where's San Jose, California? Is it by the ocean or the mountains? While the answer stays the same, the way we come to our conclusion has changed over time. A mere ten years ago, I would have gone to the bookshelf and grabbed an Atlas or Encyclopia. I would flip through the pages and find California or flip through the index and find San Jose. Five years ago I might have called a knowledgable friend or took a mental note to look it up in Encarta (remember Encarta? the digitization of an Encyclopia) when I got home. However, as we were eating dinner last night at a restaurant and the question arose, it was merely a question of who would look it up on their mobile. In less than five minutes (maximum) we had our answer complete with a visual, color map of San Jose and the surrounding area. (Its on the coast, by the way).
With all the information at our finger tips, is this good for us? We are learning how to access information at the speed of light (quite literally). However, I see reasoning, socializing, and logic getting thrown by the wayside. We are losing the tangents that reasoning and team research bring us. And really, how useful is the informaiton we are accessing anyways? Much of it is simply fluff that does not better our lives by any scope of the imagination. Consider our San Jose question: we looked it up quick and the question was quickly answered. However, if the technology had not been available, what else would we have learned? Would we have heard a story from someone who had been there? Would we have reasoned (as we did later) that their hockey team is the Sharks and why would that be a team from inland? Is my life better because I know where San Jose is? Will I even remember the answer next time the question comes up or simply turn to Google again? Would we have just let the question slide and used the five minutes for another discussion? Who knows.