I’m not sure whether it’s possible to finish talking about or understanding the computer world or not, when you are…kind of critical, and an outsider, not a professional.
It often feels like something that doesn’t have a beginning or an end.
But informatics is taught at universities, so somebody must have some kind of an overview.
You have that, at least in a certain sense, when you read printed media.
I mean, it is a concrete thing that you use for reading, you can hold a book or a newspaper with your hand, the text is there, it won’t go away or multiply.
Today’s news, for example, a copy of New York Times or even The Sun, books, pamphlets, whatever, you know that this, exactly, is what the author wrote, or what the editors of the newspaper thought was the most important news today or this week, or at least, this is what they wanted you to read.
It’s all there.
If it is a fairly good newspaper, you have kind of an overview after you’ve read your news of today. If you read it regularly, you probably also know more or less where it stands politically, what to expect and therefore what stands out against that background.
This is knowledge you can bring with you into the world of the screen, but there are problems connected to overview.
In a field of knowledge, there is usually something which is called a comprehensive collection of knowledge, and it means that a book, for instance, brings you basically the whole story about the subject, nothing important left out, so that you could possibly use it as a source if you teach the subject in case or are going to teach yourself something. Like a textbook, like an encylopedia. They are, or should be exactly that. Comprehensive.
It may look like all kinds of languages right now are more or less mashed by the marketing department’s need to sell whatever message there is in a text, and the word comprehensive is also used to sell books, to tell you the fact that we have more information than our competitor’s edition or whatever is the thing that is sold.
Even if some fields of science seem to move pretty fast today, they do not move as fast as the Internet itself. I have in my bookshelf an edition of Encyclopedia Britannica from the 1980s, and there are a lot of basic facts there that haven’t changed much. If they have, it is still useful to adjust the new knowledge to the basics in a field.
If you are going to take a PhD (I don’t have one) you have to have an overview of your field at the moment of writing the dissertation and defending it, which today probably means that you have to spend a good deal of time online to check what new things happen in your field as you work on your dissertation.
But after all, science and research are slower things that journalism, not to speak about blogism. Both newspapers and blogs have a serious and a less serious end, but even the serious one moves faster than research.
We are still humans, capable of forming concepts, grouping facts and issues and making headlines and paragraphs…and not only technical, like the computer nerds whose products we have to use for writing.
We can still think.
I hope so.
“Change is the only stable thing” was a headline in an ad for one of those courses which seem to go on everywhere in the business world these days. Even if the business world seems to speed up things and work in this fashion right now, stuff like that makes me think that they somehow lack real education, more knowledge than a practical or economical grasp of what to do, especially in terms of money-making or competition.
Britain was once famous, at least in my head, not only for specialists, but for also educating generalists who could be used in many jobs and circumstances, who of course were supposed to be able to succeed according to a company’s aims, but hopefully also according to other principles, more generally accepted as human or beneficial for people or for society as a whole.
The educated mind, I think it was called.
Not that other countries don’t have the same, of course they do, but the British or English variant or idea seeped into my mind at some point.
I do read a lot of news online, so checking the Britannica or actually studying articles now and then, gives the updated information a firmer ground to stand on. And other literature, when I have time and energy.
The basis of sociology, chemistry, musicology, was laid before the computers, not to talk about philosophy, other life sciences etc. Things happen in science and technology nowadays, absolutely, but especially in the world of humanities I think the past has a lot to give.
The CO2 problem was mentioned in this edition of Britannica as a scientific possibility, not an established fact.
One basic problem today, of politics and also of understanding the world, is that too few think about what should be done, and as a consequence, what is the actual situation? – instead they think too much only about how to get things done, and vote for politicians who seem to be able to do things.
What things, and why do exactly this? are at least here in Norway, fair questions to ask.