Information transcending generations

When the library of Alexandria burned down in 391 AD generations of scrolls and artefacts were lost. Knowledge is believed to be the most important aspect that can be handed down to future generations, as “man will profit from his inheritance of acquired knowledge” (Bush 1945). The destruction of the Alexandria library is a perfect example that humans needed to find a way to ensure that knowledge is never lost again.

Before technological advancements there was no easy way to duplicate texts and to share information to scholars around the world. Bush (1945) notes that if we cannot share information broadly, that important theories could be lost. This is an adequate statement as Mendel’s genetics concept was developed generations before someone that could analyse and understand his concept was able to obtain the text (Bush 1945).  The individuals which his concept did reach once published had limited understanding and could not interpret his findings.

Technological developments, however, have allowed individuals to manipulate and extract knowledge often in a digital form, thus, providing a means to allow knowledge to last many generations lives. Though when we are supplied with vast amounts of knowledge what effects does this have? In 391 AD those who were able would take vast amounts of time to read and analyse one text within the Alexandria library.  However, today’s youth are what Rowlands, Nicholas, Williams et al. (2008) deem the “Google Generation”.  Today’s generation often go to search engines like Google to search for information rather than reading an entire text within an library and accumulating multiple facts.  Though the “Google Generation” will view a text rather then read and thus do not possess the analytic and critical skills to assess the information they find on the internet (Rowlands, Nicholas, Williams et al. 2008).

Technology has allowed knowledge to transcend generations but perhaps has also created a generation that does not obtain a vast amount of knowledge.

 

References:

Bush, V 1945,“As We May Think”,  Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 176, no.1, pp. 101-08

Rowlands, I, Nicholas, D, Williams, P, Huntington, P, Fieldhouse, M, Gunter, B, Withey, R, Hamid R, J, Dobrowolski, T & Tenopir, C 2008, ‘The Google Generation: The Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future’, Aslib Proceedings: New Information Perspectives, vol. 60, no. 4, pp. 290-310.

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