Monday, July 28, 2008

Whither General Knowledge ...

There was a time when your prominence depended on the amount of things you knew about a variety of subjects. Those were the days when people actually memorized time-tables, knew the schedules of trains, buses, and flights by heart, and knew so much about so many things which they remembered. And this was all possible because there was the requirement to remember.

Today, we dont remember as many things as folks used to remember, say, in Dad's generation. The reason, to my mind is that the requirement to remember is not there (no, it has nothing to do with shrinking brains, though there are folks who lend credence to that theory, too!). Probably this is why quizzing was an activity which was way high in prominence on college campuses, and the more you knew about different things, the better it was for you, because it meant you were really smart. Today, however, this is not the scene. And probably this is why i dont see so many quiz shows these days?

The other day, i was talking to my nephew, and our man had just been for an interview at reputed consulting firm. One of the things they asked him (maybe because he is straight out of college ...) was the GDP of India in the last financial year. And this got me thinking. Here was a consulting firm (and they do a lot of projects on KM, too ...), asking in an interview the GDP of India? Do kids need to remember this kind of information nowadays? Isnt it far simpler to just google it? Or, better still, with wikipedia, you could find the GDP of India here. Which is why it got me thinking ... what were they thinking! Between the content and the conversation which is around in the virtual world, this is not even required.


Anonymous said...

One relevant comparison that crops up is the way we used to remember phone numbers as kids. Now even to call up home, I have to scroll thru phone book at times :-(

Dont know about the GDP of India, but some phone numbers we shd definitely remember and not be dependent on technology to access them... good that we have technology at our finger tips to feed us with information as and when we need it, but we shd use it at our own discretion and actually not be totally dependant on it - this is my personal opinion.

Atul said...

totally agree with you. but the point is, especially for information that is dynamic, it might just be a better idea to rely on some of the social platforms which are available to us. After all, people are always more up-to-date than platforms are!

Nimmy said...

i think we need to make a choice here....and decide what we want to commit to memory and what we want to fish out of the internet when needed. so, while India's GDP may be very important to someone who is into the country's development and how it fares compared to other countries, it may not matter at all to someone else who will look it up only when they find it is necessary to know it in order to complete a task etc. if it is important and relevant to you, you better remember it so you can use it off the cuff during an important conversation or argument! :)

interestingly enough, just a week back I too got into a conversation on quizzing with a friend and realized that there are very few quiz shows to be seen these days and that is probably because we don't give memory as much importance as we used to....but yes, we can't let technology control our minds (memory)...we gotta be on top!!

Atul said...

I totally agree, Nimmy, that we need to be on top ... and, the general point you are making. However, if something can be found somewhere, maybe not worth the while to remember it.

Reminds me of an anecdote from a Sherlock Holmes story ... when Dr. Watson tells him that the Earth revolves around the Sun, and not the other way round, the only response he got from Holmes was, now that i know about it, i will try to forget it, because it is useless information to me, and besides, its there in the library, so if i ever need it, i can always look it up there.