david_gelernter's picture
Computer Scientist, Yale University; Chief Scientist, Mirror Worlds Technologies; Author, America-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled our Culture (and ushered in the Obamacrats)
What are people well-informed about in the Information Age?

Let's date the Information Age to 1982, when the Internet went into operation & the PC had just been born. What if people have been growing less well-informed ever since? What if people have been growing steadily more ignorant ever since the so-called Information Age began?

Suppose an average US voter, college teacher, 5th-grade teacher, 5th-grade student are each less well-informed today than they were in '95, and were less well-informed then than in '85? Suppose, for that matter, they were less well-informed in '85 than in '65?

If this is indeed the "information age," what exactly are people well-informed about? Video games? Clearly history, literature, philosophy, scholarship in general are not our specialities. This is some sort of technology age — are people better informed about science? Not that I can tell. In previous technology ages, there was interest across the population in the era's leading technology.

In the 1960s, for example, all sorts of people were interested in the space program and rocket technology. Lots of people learned a little about the basics — what a "service module" or "trans-lunar injection" was, why a Redstone-Mercury vehicle was different from an Atlas-Mercury — all sorts of grade-school students, lawyers, housewives, English profs were up on these topics. Today there is no comparable interest in computers & the internet, and no comparable knowledge. "TCP/IP," "Routers," "Ethernet protocol," "cache hits" — these are topics of no interest whatsoever outside the technical community. The contrast is striking.