Saturday, December 13, 2008

Knowledge is Power

Knowledge is power. The old saying has been around for centuries, I'm sure, but never has this been more true than in today's society. The proliferation of education and innovation have created a better world in which we solve problems that face us faster, and increase the standard of living for everyone. Obviously, this includes the reduction of poverty and crime, disease and disorder, and an increase in global competitiveness as our populace becomes smarter and more innovative, and realizes its potential for becoming productive and successful.

Information is at the heart of all of this. A well-informed citizenry was the key to our Founding Fathers' vision of democracy, in which the people hold absolute power, and dictate the fate of their nation for their benefit. The proliferation of information allows us to understand the world around us, and become better suited to serving ourselves and those around us. One who embraces the power of information (especially through education) tends to find themselves successful. Those who ignore it often find themselves left behind.

No one thing has provided such huge, all-encompassing access to information as the advent of the internet. Never before has such a vast compilation of information been available to the public. And with the invention of search engines such as Google, it is possible to sort through this information and find what we are searching for in seconds. Never before has it been so easy to better ourselves through the acquisition of knowledge. With a world's worth of information at our fingertips, the internet truly has the power to change the way we think. And that has great consequences for the way the world will work, and for the better.

If you ask me, the internet is one of the greatest and most consequential inventions in all of human history. It informs us, it connects us, and possibly most importantly, it allows us to respond to what we see and share our own information. For too long mankind has relied on one-way mediums for its information such as radio and television. While very informative, they are not very useful in creating a well-informed populace because they only allow its users to receive information, and not contribute to it themselves. Only the very rich can influence what is seen over these mediums, and as a result, a very small group of people has the power to influence hundreds of millions. This is not acceptable. A well-informed populace needs not only access to information, but also the ability to respond to that information. This "conversation of ideas" is what fuels innovation and free thought, and what we have seldom seen since the days of the Revolution. It is time that we realized what a great thing the internet is, and started using it to its full potential.

Slowly, the world is starting to adopt to this new infrastructure of free-flowing and fully accessible knowledge. In Estonia, internet access is a basic human right by law. Today, it is one of the most modernized, well-informed and in-touch nations in the world.

The world will change as the internet becomes a more dominant medium in our society, and undoubtedly it will be for the better. We should try to hasten this new age of free information and knowledge by encouraging the proliferation of technology throughout the nation, and the world. Bringing this technology to the people of the world will undoubtedly help us stay connected, well-informed, and better able to cope with the problems of the 21st century. Perhaps if we could bring internet access to everyone, we couldsee the benefit in society. Maybe bringing the net to the secluded parts of the nation, from rural South to the Great Plains, could allow us to truly accomplish greatness.

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