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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Monday October 09 2006

imageI don’t quite know how well these new batteries will work, but I will definitely be giving them a try, and maybe then switching over to them completely.  They make a big pitch out of the fact that they work when you first buy them.  And they are rechargeable.  But, best of all by far, once recharged, they don’t dribble their power away over the next day or two and have to be recharged again if you then want to use them, as is the case with rechargeable batteries now.

I learned about these batteries via an advert in Digital Camera Buyer.  So score one for the Dead Tree Media, and score another for old school advertising.  On Saturday afternoon I dropped in at my local Jessops to see if they knew anything about these new batteries, and if, best of all, they actually had any for sale.  They knew nothing about them.  In days of old, that would have been that, but there is now the Internet.

It has taken me quite a while to get used to the idea that, in the Age of Google, if you have a question, you can quickly find an answer.  It’s like being a small boy again, only this time when you shout “Why?!?!?!” (or whatever) at your mother, your mother is the Internet, and it knows, and it can tell you in seconds.

It seems to me that the implications of that simple fact for our intellectual culture are profound.  Said he, announcing that the earth is round, not flat, and isn’t that exciting? I mean, I know I’m years behind the wave with this observation.

Most of trad education is about inculcating (a) stacks of facts, (b) an understanding of the (very arduous and complicated) means of acquiring more facts, and also (c) a love of those facts and of the means of obtaining those more facts, because without loving all that, what chance have you got?  Remembering everything is hard.  Finding out more is hard.  You gotta love it, or you just won’t be bothering with it.

But in the Age of Google, the economics of fact finding and of fact storage, are radically transformed.  Finding any particular fact - what’s all this about “Hybrios”? - is now easy.  Therefore, you don’t have to love finding things out nearly so much, enough to keep you going for hours, days or weeks while you find it.  You just . . . find things out!  Type in “Hybrio”, and up it comes.  If any of it is confusing, type that in too, and that too is explained.  Which in its turn means that it maybe doesn’t make sense to be storing so many facts in your head in the first place, given that you can now find out about them so easily.

The internet has moved us from an age of the best people being involved in a few very difficult projects, to an an age in which everyone is engaged in doing lots of individually easy things, but which adds up to a single difficult thing (just not drowning in it all) if you don’t handle the new world, the Age of Google, right.

This is surely all part of why people who are rather thick at school often do very well in life, but that people who are brilliant at school often make a mess of life.  Brilliant at school means excellent at quite complicated exams, complicated enough to penalise the thick, but insufficiently complicated to phase the “brilliant”.  But there is now a mismatch between school and life, based on the fact that the next thing you will have to do in life is easy, and the dumb-but-smart people just do it.  The “brilliant” people, may agonise and delay, and screw everything up.  The next thing is easy to do, no matter how thick you are.  But if you delay the next thing and try to keep everything in your Old School head, being brilliant will not save you, because no matter how brilliant you are, you cannot now keep a mental hold of everything.

I’ve now started reading this book, and the above paragraph is my summary-so-far of what he is trying to teach.  On the face of it, the book seems very good.  Key insight so far: don’t just list what you HAVE TO DO.  List what you have to do, and attach to each HAVE TO DO, the typically very easy little thing that you HAVE TO DO NEXT, for each have to do.  Is that HAVE TO DO NEXT very easy?  So, do it now.

Smart people are no longer the ones who already know exactly what Hydrio batteries are.  They are the ones who know how to just ask about them, how then to give it a moment’s thought to decide what to do about what they then learn, and then just do that, either immediately or when the time comes.  Which in my case means go out and buy a set,as soon as they are on sale in Jessops.

All of which is a complicated memo from me to me, which will not get lost because it will remain on my personal blog, to get some Hydrios as soon as I can.  I can’t Just Buy Them, given that (although very brilliant) I have yet to get it sorted how to buy things on the Internet (although that is very easy).  But I can write this memo to myself, so I did.  Which was something, and something easy.