Do We Know More Than We Used To?

It’s hard to say people know much more than we once did. The reports of there being thousands, even a million times as much to know as there once was may be vastly overstated.

It is a statistical thing and we are easily mislead. More in the afternoon post today.

Growing information.

People would have us believe the quantity of stored information is growing at an amazing rate. They relate to the number of zetta-bytes available.  That number has 21 zeroes. In 2020 Statista estimated 6.7 Zetta-bytes existed.

The unanswered question relates to whether quantity is a measurement of information at all.

Consider, a high definition picture can be about 5 megabytes. Two quadrillionths of a zetta-byte. A vanishingly small share. We also know that 5 megabytes is about the same size as the collected works of William Shakespeare. The Bible is about 15% smaller still. Obviously 5 megabytes alone doesn’t inform you about the value of the information.

I think there may be another hi-def picture added before there is something, in terms of knowledge or ideas, worth the Shakespeare collection, or the Bible. How about Wikipedia? About 20 gigabytes. about one three-trillionths of the total. I wonder what makes up the  other 2,999,999,999,999 parts

Seeking Wisdom.

There is a long way to go from a megabyte on a hard drive to wisdom. The pattern is data, the stuff on the internet, information, the stuff you can use to build with, knowledge the structure that arises from curated information, and wisdom when you know how to connect knowledge to what you are trying to do.

How many  megabytes does a one minute Tik Tok video use? Tik Tok videos are about 14 megabytes per minute. How many of the would you need to get to wisdom? A plethora, I think.

Don’t let quantity tell you an answer unless you can judge the quality of the data for your purpose. Quantity is not often a good substitute for quality.

The takeaway

  1. Never believe raw numbers. Always seek their quality and context before trying to use them.
  2. Meaning matters, especially meaning to you
  3. Don’t believe you cannot keep up. Most of the “information” available has too little meaning to qualify as knowledge, or even information.
  4. Meaning attaches to wisdom and data doesn’t add much to that. Be discerning.
  5. The media is looking for catchy headlines. Beware.

I help people have more retirement income and larger, more liquid estates.

Call in Canada 705-927-4770, or email 

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