About the dangers of the access to the culture in digital times has been written and said a lot. Many experts not only once were speaking about it already, being saddened about the legacy of times gone by. The prospect future unfortunately does not look very promising either. In general the increase in digitalization and IT, the era of information, don’t go hand in hand with the increase of the perception of culture, especially by the average receivers is pretty low and by many totally distorted, due to the digital forms of access.
Before, when one wanted to acquire any kind of knowledge, you had to go to the library to dig it out. One had to grab a book and peruse through it to find the information one was looking for. This way of gaining and finding information was relatively labour intense, and time consuming, sometimes even a bit costly, when one had to get to a library located in town.
This model of gaining primary knowledge has had a number of benefits to it, especially one main one, the knowledge in the books was fundamental and backed by real scientific facts and not beliefs or assumptions. It had a profound effect on the perception of the recipient and their thinking process. Books were based on a solid and dependent source of information that could by verified by the bibliography of the book and could be tested against scientific facts and research. Thanks to that a reader could broaden their knowledge based on credible sources. This was a complete process that went through steps, to get one to the end result, stimulating ones own thinking along the way.
Today in the digital era the access to culture is way easier. The internet and its’ resources allow one a lot, a great many ways to reach the info. In the internet there is all kind of knowledge dealing with all kinds of themes, which could be sometimes really surprising or even overwhelming, given the enormous number of different choices on line.
The problem lies in the fact of getting the right info from the lot, info that is valuable can prove quite difficult indeed. If one does not know what is important in a given field, we can stray and that is a serious problem. There are so many choices that going through all of them is very time consuming. In times of books everything was much simpler, book inventory was sufficient to get you were you needed to go. Digital info has its own search engines which work based on their specific algorithms, that can be tempered with at will. There is no guarantee that one has accessed the newest and most accurate data.
The risk of stumbling upon junk data is therefore very high. Another problem is what we can call superficial knowledge. This comes up most often in the internet, and the text info has also been slowly overtaken by audio-visual content, highly susceptible to free interpretation. Unless we are interested in religious books that can produce more reliable and true content and here also can come up with some exceptions along the way.
The problem is significant and also has a huge meaning for our future , because scrolling the screen of the smartphone with our finger is not going to generate any positive value, in spite of the fact , that all kind of junk is being added to the GDP. We are unfortunately living in such times now. It would have been nice if growing credentials in digital reality would be supported by high quality.
It means, that we are in a need of something more, than a simple index of the search engine, which supplies us with data based on the accuracy of key words, like algorithms , often very advanced and geared towards marketing effects. There was an attempt made to create a European search engine, but this has proved unsuccessful. So the problem continues to exist and a change in attitude would be required to bring about a fundamental change and that would be an incredible undertaking in itself.
One very important thing is needed, which is an access to data that is credible and trustworthy. It is a little bit like the search engine pushing out certain results while one is looking for certain material, some sources are placed at the top of the search list. It comes down basically to the fact , which info is legitimate and who is going to determine that. May be we need a public institution with the right competences, that would monitor and filter the Wikipedia on line, and other online sources? This is no doubt a very complex and complicated problem that can bring us down. Because typical for junk is to be everywhere, it is attractive and multiplies itself easily.
Written by Krakauer and Translated by Kanadier. Tekst polski (tutaj).