Johan Oakes

Senior, Austin High School

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Is the ease of retrieving information minimizing growth in our young population?

Back in the old days, technology didn't exist, apart from your light bulb and radio. Research was solely based on either asking a professional or going to the local library. Is the ease of retrieving information minimizing growth in our young population? Student do not really have to try anymore. Why take out a book and learn when you always have Google in your pocket? Does this hurt our youth?

  • Dec 23 2011: The fact that information is so easily available is definately not the problem. The problem lies in educating people on how to properly use it. How much time was spent researching already established concepts? The argument could be made that forcing someone to figuring out some of the middle steps themselves to be able to find the questions for the more advanced ideas makes you an expert. This is what would make you memorize all those little facts. Yet being able to share ideas and compare results in seconds should make the next step that much easier to accomplish. No longer do you have to hope that the library has the right book for your question. Waiting for an aswered letter or traveling to an expert is not needed. Now you can expect a response in a few days at the worst.

    We should be focusing on teacher people how to use this information. Encouraging people to explore ideass and different sciences. The fault does not lay with technology. Instead the fault is allowing younger generations to believe that this technology is only for entertainment. You can do more with a computer than play video games, watch movies, or stay up to date on whatever pop icon is popular right now. It can even be over a wide range of fields. The ability to explore multiple fields as people wish may not make them a cutting edge expert in a single field, but it can bring them into a high level of knowledge over a broad scope of fields. Showing them how to bring different subjects together to solve problems.
  • Dec 20 2011: Being 16, and a frequent user of technology to find answers, very often I find myself wondering how different my life would be if access to information was like it was in 'the old days'. And I often feel quite sad about the answer I come up with.

    I feel like now that answers are so readily and easily available, my generation aren't learning and growing as much as we potentially could be. Whenever I read a book from a library for some information, my eye is always catching some new information, something that I wouldn't have learnt if I had Googled the original question it. I think that's what the problem is these days with information retrieval. A search engine is able to give you pages specific to your question, that answer only that single question, while a book will tell you another 10 things on the same page the answer is written on.

    And as to asking experts, there is a reason they are experts. Online, you never know who is behind the text on your screen. But an expert is trained in their field, and are a lot more genuine.
  • Jan 16 2012: Just as we learn a language from our parents, I believe that we will evolve to use information much more easily than we as a human species do now. For example some people have an ability to look at numbers and immediately see shapes and colours even feelings. And that using these "Tools" of the mind have an easier time of looking at information than others.
    I believe it is called " senestesia?" I don't know how to spell it sorry.

    I think that all humans have these abilities. Our inability to use these faculties consiously is directly linked to what we have to do to survive . We have survived as a species because of all the magnificent use of information processing/ for example our brain processes information from our ears all the time our eyes process colour and shapes all the time
    I think it be only the next step to evolve unconcious information processing as easily and effortlessly and unconsiously as we breathe air. Only and if it directly affects our ability to survive in the environment in which we live.

    So do i think our youth are being handicapped by the ease with wich they can get data?

    no i do not ... just as i don't think my ability is handicapped because i do not have the skill to make a bow and arrow. I know generally about the subject but i no longer need it to survive in this society.

    The world wide web only makes it easier to solve problems by sharing ideas // there are many more questions to be solved than questions that have been answered.

    Knowing information and using it creatively are two different things. My dad tells strories of memorizing trigonometry tables to do trig. now you just have to understand the idea of trigonometry the formula and use a calculator to crunch the numbers.

    Yes i do think that maybe we as a society do not spend enough time on solving problems as other societies do. And so the youth reflect this by not spending as much time in solving a problem and expecting it to come easy? bye!
  • Dec 29 2011: The ease of access to information has take the prestigious nature out of the development of the mind. Think of knowledge as the most valuable resource in the world and then socialize a person in a realm where this commodity is always at his finger tips-- that person could take information for granted and never feel compelled to seek intelligence or enlightenment because he could just Google it if he needs to know it. The difference is between desire and necessity.

    On the flip side, he could understand that knowledge is limitless in our era and seek to learn all he could in all facets of his souls interest. 30 years ago composing essays on research or thought took considerably longer because one had to sift through actual books as opposed to typing in a term in a search engine. We are able to develop our thoughts at a much more rapid pace. Teaching kids that they have the world in their hands and that they should use that to become enlightened beings is the answer. Its not the information's fault but our lacking reverence for it.
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    Dec 21 2011: I think the threat is actually more to memory and retention as opposed to minimizing growth. I think the win is huge... Google is amazing... When someone bullshits me now... I can literally look up what they just told me and find out if it's true. I don't think we'll ever raise a generation where intellectuals can recite Shakespeare from memory anymore though... and that is a bit of a loss.

    I think the greatest threat to youth, is the feeling that we don't need to remember things anymore, because they're there... In the cloud... If an EMP took out our power grid I think most of us would be dead in a couple of weeks because we don't remember any of the important things anymore... but luckily, that probably won't happen.
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      Dec 21 2011: Very true, but the problem is that a loss of memory is a loss of time. If we always have to look up things, because we couldn't remember how to do them, then time would be lost. Time is also the most valuable commodity. In turn, a loss of memorization power and ability has led to great losses in intellect and speed.
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        Dec 21 2011: And even more so, it's making subtle connections between complex ideas harder to find, because we no longer maintain a full understanding of those ideas, in the parts of the brain we have easy access to. There is a great loss of time, and creative thinking, but I would still argue that there are positives balancing out this trade as well. It's harder to spread direct dis information. It's easier to check your work... And we're getting almost as fast at googling as we are thinking... but it will never be the same. I'd like to hope, that as we learn to use technology better, the cummulative effect will basically be a wash.
  • Dec 19 2011: I've been wondering about this for some times, especially because I expect I will have to be doing much more of this in the future with all the papers I'll be doing.

    What I'm worried about is that certain aspects of communication will be cut off from younger generations. It seems to me that before, if you were concerned about something or confused about where to look for things on a certain topic, you could ask an expert or a librarian about where you could find those things. Nowadays, it's easy to type your question into a search engine and get your answer. This could potentially prevent them from being more open to people and having that kind of learning community. I'm not saying that self-learning is not good; it's just that younger people would perhaps be less likely to seek out help from those who also hold bodies of information, which could potentially hinder them from fostering relationships with others.

    On the other hand, as long as technology is changing, people will at some point need to ask for help about those changes, and talking to a professional about information, I feel, has benefits that sometimes readings cannot completely give. So, in that sense, communication with others in retrieving information won't completely disappear.

    It would be good to emphasize communication in learning for certain!
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      Dec 19 2011: I guess that's another aspect. The whole worrying thing about that is that children are gullible. Thus, without the need to seek guidance, children will be easily persuaded from ignorant responses from numerous webpages stemming from a Google search. Students automatically accept webpage sources as valid (wikipedia) and so do I. So knowledge and communication are explicitly vulnerable.