Information, Knowledge and Wisdom

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Twenty-five years ago or so, there used to be just one information explosion. The 90s brought the digital age to the masses and also the advent of a multiplicity of information explosions. At the turn of the millenium, this plurality quickly gave way to a complete cacophony of nearly infinite explosions.

Naturally, as society becomes subjected to all this information in one way or another, the question is raised, “are we gaining knowledge and wisdom, too, along the way?”

The whole technology layer presents a slippery slope for many who seek to gather a quantity of information quickly. It’s true that info can be mined rapidly, but there are often many bones to spit out in the process. Does any of this actually lead to increased knowledge? I think it can, but a prerequisite amount of common sense is essential for vetting data found on the web.

The real danger here is the growing trend of mistaking information for knowledge and/or wisdom. For example, a handful of programmers in the late 1990s began developing the app that sends text messages over a wireless network. They used their growing storehouse of mobile platform development information to construct the basic texting application many of us now use today. Did they stop to think that teenagers would become addicted to the technology to the point where they are sitting side by side on a bus and texting each other instead of talking? I have it on good authority that they did not.

Thus, we seem to have sacrificed the notion that technology is best developed and applied when it is counterbalanced with an equal dose of wisdom.

One of my favorite phrases these days is “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” How many investment banking and mortgage banking firms (not to mention other companies who got into banking after the rollback of Glass-Steagall) looking to make their quarterly numbers failed to consider wisdom before they leveraged their balance sheets up to 40:1 nearly bringing the U.S. economy to the brink of collapse?

Wisdom does not proceed from knowledge; it guides and governs it. May we NEVER lose sight of this fact. For information without wisdom does not lead to knowledge; and without wisdom, knowledge is directionless.