What We Know


“All I know is just what I read in the papers, and that’s an alibi for my ignorance.”

The late great Will Rogers is credited with the quote above. I reference it because it is just as relevant now as when he said it almost a century ago. I don’t bring it up to say that people who read the newspapers are ignorant. I tend to think quite the opposite actually. Instead I bring it up because I have questioned my own real knowledge of the things going on around me. (Illustration Credit/Ordinary Co)

“Show Me As Much, As Often And As Quickly As You Can”

A lot has been said about the ever increasing amount of “noise” we are enduring throughout the day. Between Twitter, Facebook, push notifications on our phones, and your favorite little PUBLIC SCHOOL blog, there is a lot to keep up with. Despite this, more often than not, it seems like we try to find ways to fit even more in to that increasingly crowded mix. I tend burden myself with the task of keeping up not only due to personal interest, but my role in curating this blog with the other PUBLIC SCHOOLers as well.

In some ways I have grown accustomed to a daily perusal of the blogs, news sites and social feeds. It used to be a chore to find content for this site and to stay abreast of whats going on in the different industries, including my own, that I follow. Habit or not though, it is a lot to keep up with, and something I am growing suspicious of.

“Yeah, I Think I Saw Something About That”

Often times I find myself recognizing a little bit about a snippet of a news story someone mentions. I’ll have a fleeting memory of hearing about it, but no real understanding of what or why it happened. I do feel good about having heard whatever “it” is. But I have begun to wonder if just knowing about it is good enough.

Is it sufficient for me to read many news sources to know a little bit about everything? Or is it better to find a few solid sources and be unaware of the smaller stories that crop up in all of the other places?

I wasn’t around for the times of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, so I can’t speak to the days of old school journalism, but it seems to me that when there were a smaller number of curators dispelling the news, the general public had a better understanding of what was going. This could be a completely inaccurate and unfairly nostalgic assumption to make, but in my own experience, it seems to be true.

Now, I know the counter argument to this idea is that the larger number of sources for news and information, the better. I won’t disagree. I am all for the democratization of information. I just wonder if our own inability to filter where our information is coming from is leading to an overall dilution of the information itself.

The Difference Between Knowing and Knowing

What I am ultimately getting at, is that I’m curious if we are all becoming the proverbial “jacks of all trades, but masters of none”, in an awareness sense. Should we all be focusing a smaller number of subjects and developing our knowledge of those further? Or is it better to know a little bit about all that is going on around us without a complete knowledge of any of it?

Ultimately my take on all of this may be unfounded, and different from all of yours. You may not be one of us younger folks who lacks long term attention. It’s just that personally I am trying to move away from the mass consumption, and more towards a “savoring” of the news and articles I read. In part this move is because of the video below of the late physicist, Richard Feynman, which I will end this rant and question with.

I am curious though, what is your take on all of this?




  • http://twitter.com/overprocessed Dieter von Schramm

    Great post. You have to cut out the noise and dig deeply to find the truth. This is true in all forms of informational media. Unfortunately, so much is just noise.

  • http://twitter.com/exurban Jayson Shenk

    I think the problem is that we live in a post-trust era. We’ve seen that people are completely willing to distort the facts for personal gain so now every new fact we’re presented with has a seed of doubt in it. I see that as being increasingly difficult to resolve because the complexity and amount of information you would require to make a decision is really past what we can process.

  • http://www.facebook.com/banksean Sean McCullough

    If you haven’t read Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman, I highly recommend it. The foreword: http://www.serendipity.li/jsmill/post_1.html

  • dana

    funny thing… i really want to watch the video because i’m fascinated by the topic… but now find myself asking…. do i really need this knowlege?

  • http://www.facebook.com/genitempo Matthew Genitempo

    Haha, good point Dana.

  • http://twitter.com/jaybsauceda Jay B Sauceda

    I think that this is a really good point. It is now an assumption that there are motives behind everything, which is a shame.

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  • Thelonious Gonzo

    But – there *are* motives behind everything. I don’t think this is even an assumption. It’s just true. We are all motivated when we DO something or we wouldn’t do it. Assuming that big media is any more biased than little media sure doesn’t seem safe to me. I subscribe to Gladwell’s ‘Blink’ ideas. Listen and read as much as you can stand, go with your gut and live with it. Then again – I’m very biased. ;]

Works Cited

Written By:

Jay B Sauceda


January 20th, 2011