It occurred to me quite recently, after my post in memory of Roger Scruton, that while I have watched his documentary on beauty a couple of times, and read many of his online essays, I’d never actually taken the time to read one of his books. I took some time this week to do so. A review of Culture Counts is forthcoming at my earliest convenience, but for now, I thought this quote was profoundly true:
It is sometimes said that we now live in a “knowledge economy,” and that “information technology” has vastly increased the extent and accessibility of human knowledge. Both claims are false. “Information technology” simply means the use of digital algorithms in the transference of messages. The “information” that is processed is not information about anything, nor does it have its equivalent in knowledge. It treats truth and falsehood, reality and fantasy, as equivalent, and has no means to assess the difference. Indeed, as the Internet reveals, information technology is far more effective in propagating ignorance than in advancing science. For, in the conquest of cyberspace, ignorance has a flying start, being adapted to the habits of idle minds.
There’s a lot to be said about this (and I hope you’ll share your thoughts!), but the biggest takeaway for me is that we have erred greatly by conflating information and knowledge as if they are synonymous. We are much poorer for it, in my opinion.