How can we work together to make sense of it all?
It occurs to me that as the means of disseminating so called information have multiplied, especially through the digital revolution, the concern has been mainly with the generation of more bits, distribution of bits, feeling sorry for people who don’t get enough bits, and so on rather than concern with quality and with using so called information to increase our stock of knowledge and understanding and maybe add a few grains of wisdom.
We need a better class of people working as skilled intermediaries to extract knowledge and understanding and maybe a little bit of wisdom from this huge welter of bits that assails us.
So many pieces of information are false or irrelevant or badly organized or otherwise unsuitable for doing much for us. The reward system for people who do a really wonderful job of extracting knowledge or understanding or wisdom is skewed in the wrong way. If left just to the so called free market it’s mainly skewed toward entertainment or toward something that’s narrowly utilitarian for a business firm or a set of business firms. But where’s the responsibility for actually extracting advances of knowledge and understanding?
I think that’s something that the whole society needs to be aware of and to work on.
What kind of concerns are met in the work of such intermediaries? We can’t have the sizable rewards restricted just to entertainment value or to something that a particular person or firm is willing to pay for for narrow utilitarian reasons.
— Murray Gell-Mann