Will access to the world’s information over the Internet result in the decline of human knowledge?
Quick! Can you name the first five prime numbers? Or the atomic weight of Xenon? Or the phases of meiosis? Can you do it without consulting the web?
Brian Cathcart is professor of journalism at Kingston University, and recently, he wrote an article called “Is Google Killing General Knowledge?” In it, he wonders how on-demand access to information changes our relationship to facts:
I teach undergraduates, and I am prepared to bet that many other teachers have found themselves wondering whether they are seeing this force at work. The average student […] seems not to value general knowledge. If asked a factual question, they will usually click on a search engine without a second thought. Actually knowing the fact, committing it to memory, does not seem to be a consideration.
Last week, Nora interviewed Brian Cathcart about this phenomenon.