Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Is all this Information forming the Tower of Babel?



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You have all heard the story of the Tower of Babel. While the story is biblical, it has also become synonomous with all things in which multiple languages cause confusion.

I wonder if the proliferation of information over the Internet is our Tower of Babel? Do we have so much information and so much stress to try to organize all this information in our lives, that we are destined to bring down the tower? Will we reach a point at which our society can no longer handle the amount of information that is being thrown at it?

Of course, I don't know the answer, but I do think that the key to all of this is in how the information is organized. We need to drop our old ways of organizing data. For example, filing in file cabinets. With the amount of information that comes across our desks, it is unrealistic to file it all in cabinets. Our offices would become so overcrowded that we would be pushed right out. So how do we organize all this information?

We need to use tools like RSS Aggregators that push information to us rather than asking us to go to multiple websites in search of the information. I use Netvibes.com as my aggregator, but there are many to choose from. You simply add webpages that you want to get feeds from and they feed the news articles from all the added websites into one webpage.

We need to become adept at using search engines to find reliable, up to date information quickly and easily. The different languages in this case are the myriad of opinions and perspectives that we are bombarded by. How do we determine what is the truth vs. what is someone's opinion? Reading multiple perspectives and sources is more important (and accessible) than ever before.

As our students get older, they will be asked to sift through gobs of information as part of their lives. What are we doing to help them learn the skills necessary to do this? Where does this skill fit on the continuum of other skills we teach? I put it very high. How about you? What skills are more important? Which can be pushed lower on the continuum to make more room for this one?

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