The click of a mouse and curiosity

I downloaded the TED app on my way to a meeting yesterday. An hour train journey and I was a little bored. The tap of a finger. A free download.  And suddenly I had a mountain of information and inspiration –

It is, when you stand back, quite incredibly awesome.

I have talked a lot about connections to other people but the other thing I’ve re-discovered is a thirst for knowledge and a curiosity to learn. The subject is almost irrelevant: I feel, at the moment, like a giant sponge.

On the bus in the morning, I read through Twitter. For a delicious hour, I can click on any number of links and find myself learning about neuroscience – or politics – or philosophy – or the development of media – or the latest technical invention. Knowledge is no longer segregated and I am exploring areas that I have never previously thought about; discovering new interests; realising that things I’d viewed in distinct themes overlap and sometimes connect. The environment comes into urban planning which intersects with human behaviour which goes back to media which takes me to technology and innovation which links to education then we hit politics –

One question leads to another and I am leapfrogging through knowledge in a way that I could never have imagined. If I follow this thought where will I end up?  The limits to what we can discover have been pushed way out; and, it’s happened so quickly that I have forgotten to step back and consider how fortunate we are.

Mostly.

I was talking to a colleague about this later in the day. Getting a little over-excited about how accessible knowledge was and how I loved being able to both drive and experiment with learning, how the only imperative was a curious mind – when she reminded me that this was only one side of the picture. There is the side where the wrong things can easily slip into the wrongs hand and kids are reading things that they probably shouldn’t see. The bit where the mass of knowledge becomes a bit overwhelming and it becomes hard to extract the key vein. My feeling that I am skimming the surface of so much that my mind is constantly buzzing but there is not a whole lot of depth. The risk that the world is being further divided by those who do – or don’t – have access to things like the internet. The fact that I find it harder and harder to work out where my real passion are now, and end up getting distracted and lost.

I am not dismissing any of that.

I am good at writing about my feelings. I am comfortable pulling them apart, slightly protected in the knowledge that the subject is totally subjective and only ever presented as a perception. A few days ago, I was commenting about the difficulty in voicing opinion. On how I find it far harder to articulate what I think about things rather than what I feel about them. How it requires a different sort of courage and one which is possibly less about being right or wrong, but believing that there is value in what you think; or, at least, wanting to join in the conversation.

There is an interplay between opinion and self which, with my emphasis on working out my feelings, I have slightly underplayed.

And so, for me, the great thing about TED apps – and Twitter adventures – and the surprising links that people send me – and Stumbling into unknown places – is not that I am becoming an expert in anything, nor that I have discovered my true calling. It’s that I am just exploring my mind a little bit and appreciating that knowledge is another thing that connects people to the world.

It’s not rocket science. It’s just something that I temporarily forgot.

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6 responses to “The click of a mouse and curiosity

  1. Excellent post! It is true that is so much to discover and learn out there and that the internet has made it more accessible and instant – which is both a blessing and a curse.

    I know that I love discovering and that the connections you talk about have unlocked so many wonders and opened my mind. The big problem (at least my problem) though is that the mass of information can feel overwhelming, like so much ‘noise’ you’re never going to fully ‘tackle’ and absorb properly. I get what you mean about feeling that you’re only skimming the surface, and if it feels like you’re just buzzing to the point where it’s mental overload then looking to engage with the world can end up as stress at the expense of peace of mind (I hope that makes sense!)

    Anyway, that’s a less significant downside to a big truth – that looking to learn and connect with the wider world is a really good thing. It breaks down barriers between people and beats ignorance – on an individual level it helps us appreciate the world, opens our minds and opens ourselves up to other people. There’s a lot of awesome stuff out there and it’s a shame to think that we all miss out if we shut ourselves off. There’s always more to discover and that’s an exciting adventure. Live to learn and through learning you live! 😀 (there’s a nice cheesy slogan for some University’s marketing department :))

    Anyway, here’s to connections and the positives they bring!

    • It completely made sense. I felt like I was drowning a few months ago but I think it has got easier to filter out the noise and also to get a wider view – to understand what’s out there even if I don’t know the detail: the knowing what you don’t know thing that is equally valuable and slightly different to surface skimming.

      Am totally with you on open minds though, so I reckon it’s great to hold the awareness but then dive in. Seems like we’re in a similar place 🙂

  2. Love and agree on all. Your writing is lyrical and love it 🙂

  3. Thanks Kendra – that means a lot. xx

  4. I love TED talks! I listen to them a lot when I’m getting ready in the morning. A couple of times I’ve done yoga to them, though I don’t recommend that. I agree with you, though. While I acknowledge the dangers of info-overload, distraction and over-accessibility, I think the benefits outweigh the risks. We have so much (good) information at our fingertips. If we must learn how to use our power wisely… I think it’s totally worth it.

  5. I have been listening to them as I fall asleep this week 🙂 I’ve also been reading a lot about information-overload and whether it’s a risk or not. It’s funny how themes come up at the same time. The power wisely thing comes from awareness I reckon, so I think we’ll be okay. I am enjoying, at the moment, letting my mind wonder and it’s funny how much things seem to come together and connect.Pretty amazing actually. xx

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