Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Certainty is no longer as certain as it once was. When I am connected to the Screen of All Knowledge, to that billion-eyed hive of humanity woven together and mirrored on a billion pieces of glass, truth is harder to find. For every accepted piece of knowledge I come across, there is, within easy reach, a challenge to that fact. Every fact has its antifact. The internet's extreme hyperlinking will highlight those antifacts as brightly as the facts. Some antifacts are silly, some borderline, and some valid. This is the curse of the screen: You can't rely on experts to sort them out because for every expert there is an equal and opposite anti-expert. Thus anything I learn is subject to erosion by these ubiquitous antifactors.
Ironically, in an age of instant global connection, my certainty about anything has decreased. Rather than receiving truth from an authority, I am reduced to assembling my own certainty from the liquid stream of facts flowing through the web. Truth, with a capital T, becomes truths, plural. I have to sort the truths not just about things I care about, but about anything I touch, including areas about which I can't possibly have any direct knowledge. That means that in general I have to constantly question what I think I know.
-Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable: Understanding The 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future