When Focus Becomes More Important Than Knowledge

When Focus Becomes More Important Than Knowledge

How is the Internet changing the way you think?

Dan Gould
  • 19 january 2010

How is the Internet changing the way you think?

That was the question posed to Edge’s group of influential thinkers for 2010.  Amongst a number of intriguing answers was this  remarkable quote from David Dalrymple of MIT, which explains that the ability to focus will trump knowledge:

Before the Internet, most professional occupations required a large body of knowledge, accumulated over years or even decades of experience. But now, anyone with good critical thinking skills and the ability to focus on the important information can retrieve it on demand from the Internet, rather than her own memory. On the other hand, those with wandering minds, who might once have been able to focus by isolating themselves with their work, now often cannot work without the Internet, which simultaneously furnishes a panoply of unrelated information — whether about their friends’ doings, celebrity news, limericks, or millions of other sources of distraction. The bottom line is that how well an employee can focus might now be more important than how knowledgeable he is. Knowledge was once an internal property of a person, and focus on the task at hand could be imposed externally, but with the Internet, knowledge can be supplied externally, but focus must be forced internally.

Edge Annual Question 2010

NYT Idea of the Day: The Age of External Knowledge

[image by ihtatho]

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