Friday, July 13, 2012

Of Questions & Answers

The man who has all the answers has always been considered smart - even if grudgingly at times.

Games like Trivial Pursuit, and TV shows like Mastermind are built around our fascination and adoration of instantly knowing all the right answers; of having an elephantine memory.

Increasingly though it is all starting to seem a little bit anachronistic. In the age of Google, broadband speeds, Wikipedia, and smart phones, the ability to instantly come up with the right answers does not appear to be quite so magical. Indeed it even seems a bit odd. Why spend hours memorizing trivia when you can look up that information instantly whenever and wherever you need it ?

Instead, it is increasingly about asking the right questions.

Given the wealth of knowledge now at everyone's fingertips, the challenge is not to sift through vast tomes and walk libraries to track down some obscure piece of information. The challenge is to frame questions which will illuminate a path through this information jungle.

It all reminds one a bit of Sherlock Holmes who, famously, did not know the basic facts of astronomy because he maintained that he could always look up such information when he needed. Instead, he wanted to free up his mind for his logical reasoning skills. He would clearly have approved of Google. Why try to cram every piece of information in your head when it is so easy to look up ? Why not, instead, focus the mental energies on solving of problems and arriving at the right questions ?

Insights will increasing reside with the man who has the right questions, rather than the one knowing all the answers.


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