In 1995 Seth Godin, marketing guru of the new Millenium, created, along with his team, a website called "Squidoo" with the intention of making available a place for the masses to report on what they knew about a particular subject through a "lens". Essentially a lens is a page of information about the subject. The metaphor of a "lens" to describe this information dissemination seems logical. On each page a user shares their knowledge with others in a singularly focused way.
Wikipedia does something similar. The many sharing with the many what it is they know about a subject. Filtering, capturing and distilling information is becoming a crucial skill in this age of the digital information highway.
But my question is - how do we know that what we know is actually what it is?
Much of what I read on the net is filtered through my own personal "lens" of perception. Some pieces of knowledge I take in and absorb, integrating them into a sort of personal encyclopaedia of "facts". I accept these as truths; often unquestioned. Other things I read, I discard and relegate to the informational rubbish tip called "Crap".
Regardless if the original information was correct or not, I take on board - or discard - stuff, which through my perceptions of its accuracy - or inaccuracy - is based in large part, on a part of me which is entirely unaware I'm filtering anything at all! I am pretty much unaware, most of the time, why I accept or discard what comes at me.
What I label as fit for the Crap Tip - others perceive as entirely a Truth to be imparted to the masses! What I label as Truth has the potential to be mocked as sheer lunacy by many.
No one can always have a handle on the true facts about everything, because, the fact is... truth is distorted much of the time, by the personal perceptions of those who impart it.
The only basis for establishing hard fact is through collective acknowledgement that a larger than usual number of perceptions from other individuals concur. Or is it?
Fact is - lots and lots of people tend to concur on stuff which is hardly ever likely to be a genuine hard-core "Truth". Not on the whole anyway! People are quite mad about adopting something as truth; stuff which is unlikely ever to be a genuinely real Truth - if indeed we could spot one of those and agree! For pities sake! It's hard enough defining the meaning of Truth let alone trying to explain this queer human habit of filtering things through perceptions rather than actually knowing things. Perception changes things. All the freaking time! This whole paragraph is written from my own perception about the nature of fact and truth eh?
It makes for a rather frightening future really. Given the huge amount of information now available to us, how will we learn to discern? How will we ever know that is actual and True - trustworthy? What kinds of perceptions am I developing that I am unable to drop or keep when I read or absorb information? How do I know from what I see and hear that which I need to accept as the Truth? What do I need to toss as dross into the Crap Tip? What must I laugh at, what can I action; which truth can I sell on to others?
It's a mind melt-down!
Indefatigably, I will have to continue to master the art of questioning my beliefs and learning how to discern what perceptions exist within me and if they are actually useful for determining a Truth from the information I'm exposed to everyday.
I think perhaps - and this is purely based on my perception - that in the future, it will be those who are aware of how and why they filter the information coming at them, who will be best placed to impart that information to the masses.
Anyone can write a Squidoo page on a topic; very few will be erudite and humble disseminators of true knowledge. Even fewer will be able to perceive the latter.