Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Great Knowledge Portal

"When I was a child, I had to walk one mile to school, uphill both ways." ~ grandfather to grandson in old joke

My four year old daughter doesn't realize yet how much easier it will be for her to do research. When I was in school, doing research involved going to the library, finding the right books or periodicals, reading each one, taking notes, and distilling the information to a few key points. It would easily take several hours to research a question.

Today, there is the Internet. I consider it the great knowledge portal. Factual information is accessible instantaneously and is usually pretty accurate. A while ago, we were talking about the great Duke vs. Kentucky NCAA East Regional Final in which Duke was losing with 2.1 seconds left. Grant Hill threw an inbound pass the length of the court to Christian Laettner who scored to win the game 104-103. I recalled that Laettner had dribbled before taking the shot and everyone else thought it wasn't possible. It only took a few minutes to look it up on the Internet that evening and I verified that he did dribble. Amazing shot!

Today, I use the Internet to solve many different issues, especially when doing repairs around the house. For example, when our cars or appliances have a minor problem, I can usually find a manual and possible solutions on the Internet. Recently, I was able to do an easy car repair myself and save $250. Also, I was able to find out why some silicone caulk did not harden after a day. In the past, I have also used to Internet to repair issues with our stove and bath faucets.

Also, I find the Internet is very useful at documenting and sharing broadly an issue that is occurring in real time. For example, when the digital TV conversion occurred on June 12, 2009, our converter stopped receiving some channels. Checking the Internet that evening, I learned others had the same issue and found the solution for retuning for the missing channels.

The caution that I would give my daughter is that the good research still involves active involvement by the user. The information on the Internet is not always correct and it does take some previous basic knowledge to know what is relevant.

For more on Crossing Generations, check back every Thursday for a new segment.

This is not financial or education advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2009 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

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