Is Focus More Important Than Knowledge?

21 Jan

Internet | Edge, the ideas and technology site, recently posed its annual question for 2010 —”How is the internet changing the way you think?”— and it got some interesting responses from some super smart people. One of the most interesting answers came from David Dalrymple, a researcher at the MIT:

Before the Internet, most professional occupations required a large body of knowledge, accumulated over years or even decades of experience. But now, anyone with good critical thinking skills and the ability to focus on the important information can retrieve it on demand from the Internet, rather than her own memory. On the other hand, those with wandering minds, who might once have been able to focus by isolating themselves with their work, now often cannot work without the Internet, which simultaneously furnishes a panoply of unrelated information — whether about their friends’ doings, celebrity news, limericks, or millions of other sources of distraction. The bottom line is that how well an employee can focus might now be more important than how knowledgeable he is. Knowledge was once an internal property of a person, and focus on the task at hand could be imposed externally, but with the Internet, knowledge can be supplied externally, but focus must be forced internally.

So, in this brave new world, perhaps those people who can effectively extract and interpret the most important or relevant information from the the billions of bits and bytes on the interweb will hold greater market vaule for potential employers than, say, those people with autonomous knowledge resources. I guess that begs the question, in thes iMod times, can you put a leash on a wandering mind?

[via PSFK]

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