Showing posts with label knowledge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label knowledge. Show all posts

July 19, 2018

Boiling A Frog

So sometimes you don't know that something is happening until it is too late. 

A colleague yesterday told me this great simile:

It's like when you put a frog in a pot of water and turn up the heat, the frog doesn't know what's happening until it's too late, and he ends up being boiled alive!

With better knowledge of the context, of course, you can have the foresight to act, to fight, to get out, whatever. 

Similarly with the frog, if you throw him into an already boiling pot of water, he immediately jumps out, and viola he's saved. 

It's really important to have good situational and political awareness. 

Not everyone out there is so innocent--even when they have a good act and pretend, "Who me?"

Many of them know how to work the system, so that the system works for them. 

G-d forbid, when you're in the way, they'll often turn up the heat. 

And if you don't realize what going on, you'll be the frog that's a not so tasty dinner. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 26, 2017

Cyclops Looking Eye

What's the fascination with the mythical cyclops and the single eye in the center of the forehead?

If the eye represents seeing and knowing then aren't we better off with two or even a dozen eyes to see with?

See more, know more, do more.

How about eyes in the back of the head?

Or all around the head in a cool circle--like a majestic crown of sight all around you.

Seeing is miraculous.

The beauty of the world--people, nature, and the stars above. 

Seeing is function.

Being able to navigate, get around, and do things with relative ease. 

Seeing is safety.

Sensing path from obstacle and friend from foe. 

It's frightening to think of not having vision--what a challenge!

One old lady is possibly legally blind, but still serves as a notary public--how does she do that?

Eyes themselves are beautiful--brown and blue and hazel, and soft and deep and mesmerizing. 

Looking into someone's eyes, have you ever seen their soul. 

Show me thy ways oh L-rd and let me learn and grow in the world you've created for us--seeing the material and spiritual world we're enveloped in. 

I see the beauty, necessity, and lessons you have for me. 

However many eyes, seeing is believing in it all. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 17, 2017

What Is Wisdom?

Some thoughts today on what is wisdom:

- Knowing you know nothing--and you can prove it (ah, humility)!

- Knowing when to ask--like the infamous directions when you're lost or how to use the latest new technology.

- Learning from all others (everyone has something they can teach us).

- Wisdom = Knowledge + Experience (you've gotten an inkling about some truth out there, and you've had a chance to test it out). 

- Seeing that people's outer bodies are just the superficial, material cover for their inner souls. 

- Realizing that doing for others is so much more rewarding than doing for ourselves. 

- Following the great truths of morality and responsibility.

- Keen awareness that we are not alone in the universe--G-d is everywhere.

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 22, 2017

Wise Man Watcheth

I just loved this Asian sculpture that I found in this cool antique store.

It was white and slim with a Asian man face, long beard, and tall hat. 

The face was so expressive.

The eyes so alert and watching. 

The beard and hat made him look old and wise. 

As a real person, this is someone who has seen and learned so many things.

Forever watching.

Forever seeking to understand.

Forever trying to learn the secrets of the life. 

This is a person to consult and get guidance from. 

With age comes wisdom.

And with (occasional) reincarnation comes more opportunity to learn the painful lessons that we haven't, but must.

How long has this man been sitting there watching and learning--how long must we?

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 28, 2017

The All-Knowing (Not)

Check out this guy's shirt:
"Those who think they know EVERYthing
annoy those of us who do."

What would make this grown man put this handwritten sign on his shirt like this?  

It's funny some people really do think they know everything. 

And they are the hardest and most annoying people to listen to, because their pompous arrogance blinds them to what others think, feel, and have to say. 

The only way to really know many different things is to learn from others and then incorporate that into your brain matter. 

Progress (societal and self), including thinking, is incremental--that's why education is so important!

No one (except G-d, of course) knows everything, but everyone knows something. 

So we can learn from everyone!

Don't fear other's people knowledge, skills, and abilities--we are a community and we really only work well when we function together. 

It's like on most of the survival shows I've seen--one or two people (even those highly trained) fail miserably at long- (or short-) term surviving, because "it takes a village!"

Overall, I like my father's humble version on life much better:
"I know nothing and I can prove it." ;-)
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 
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June 12, 2017

The Knowable and Unknowable

So as we all do, I often come across challenging and perplexing issues or problems in life. 

And my nature is to try to understand them, solve them, fix them--is it survival or the challenge or both?

But then we come across some things that are just beyond our [mere mortal] understanding or ability to simply fix them. 

I remember as a youngster learning in Yeshiva about when it says in the Bible that G-d hardened Pharaoh's heart so that he continued to refuse to let the Jews go from their enslavement in Egypt.

And the classic mind-bending question is how could G-d harden his heart if Pharaoh retained free will which we all have to choose good or evil.

Did G-d harden his heart or did he have free will--which is it?  And if G-d hardened his heart, then how could Pharaoh and the Egyptians be punished for something they didn't fully control? 

One explanation is that by facing the punishing plagues, Pharoah was losing his free will to decide what to do with the Israelites, so by hardening his heart, G-d was actually restoring his free will to choose once again...interesting. 

Of course in life, there is also the philosophical dimensions of so many seeming contradictions such as the cliche about what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.

Which wins out if one is unstoppable and the other is unmovable?

No, I don't think these are just riddles, but the testing of the abilities of our human minds to understand further and further into the mysteries of G-d, creation, and the universe. 

So what do we do in life when confronted by things that are seemingly or really beyond our human capacities? 

- We ponder these weighty matters and sometimes we get frustrated and rip our little-left hair out or laugh at ourselves as to why we can't just get it.

- We look to understand the deeper spiritual meanings of these challenges in the context of our earthly lives. 

- We try to solve and fix what we can within the confines of our spaghetti brain matter and flesh and bone bodies. 

- At the end of the day, we acknowledge our human limitations, and look to the Heavens for answers or at least for Divine guidance and protection along the way.

While we cannot understand everything or always reach our destination that we set for ourselves that should never prevent us from trying our hardest and going as far as we can on our journeys--and letting the next person, and the next person pick up the torch and carry it forward. 

In the Jewish prayers, we say that the matters of the earth are for our exploration and striving, but the ultimate secrets of the Heaven are for G-d alone. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 23, 2016

All American Chair

Got to love this all American chair. 

Red, white, and blue. 

And stars and stripes everywhere. 

The only thing that I seriously wonder about is whether this chair was manufactured in the U.S. 

With the U.S. losing 35% of it's manufacturing employment between 1998 and 2010 (from 17.6M to 11.5M), due in large part to outsourcing, there is a good chance this chair was made overseas. 

Now manufacturing makes up less than 9% of total U.S. employment

Also noteworthy is the loss of 51,000 manufacturing plants or 12.5% between 1998-2008.  


Manufacturing are agriculture are strategic capabilities for this country and any country. 

It's not just what you know, but what you make!

Sure we can make things faster and easier with automation, but at this point there is a serious skills shortage (with millions of jobs going unfilled), and we need to safeguard the strategic knowledge, skills, capability, and capacity to make things vital to our thriving existence.

We need to be a more self-sufficient nation again and not a one-trick service pony. 

We need to use information to be better innovators, creators, developers, and builders. 

Information is great, but you can't live by information alone. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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January 16, 2016

Wanting It Too Much

It's funny how we all dream about something...

Money, honor, success, piety, large families, health, beauty, popularity, big houses, fancy cars, exciting vacations, and so on. 

Some people even dream of technology and big data, and wanting to either come up with "the next big thing" or simply have all the answers to everything. 

In the election session now, Saturday Night Live (SNL) frequently makes fun of some candidates at how much they desperately want to be president. 

I wonder though between the connection of wanting something so much and actually getting it. 

Does wanting it...led you to actually get it. 

OR

Perhaps, it actually can push it further away. 

One women who I was talking with told me that the more you want something, the less likely you are to get it, period.

You want it too much (you're greedy, narcissistic, or think you are somehow ultimately deserving and the world just owes it to you)!

The universe just won't let you have it when you are desperate for it. 

You have to be ready for it...cool with it...and most importantly, at peace with yourself, and then you can get where you want to be. 

There is something that rings so true about that. 

Desperation and success do not make good bedfellows. 

In fact, the more you know somebody wants something, isn't that just such a huge turn-off (you start questioning their motives and everything) and in a way you want to recoil and not give it to them. 

Sure, knowing what you want helps. 

Hard work helps. 

But being okay with whatever G-d decides for you is critical. 

You can't go with your head through the door!

G-d will either open or close the path to you...and all the kings horses and all the kings men won't make the difference in the end. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 15, 2015

The Wrong Way To Test

As educators are pushed to improve students' test scores, sometimes they run afoul.

In Atlanta, 8 former public school educators were sentenced to prison--three were sentenced to as long as seven years--for a conspiracy inflating student scores by "changing answers" to the tests. 

Interestingly, in another article today, we see that not only are students put to the test, but so are job applicants

In fact, "Eight of the top 10 U.S. private employers now administrator pre-hire tests in their job applications."

While testing can certainly show some things, they can also miss the point completely. 

I know some people that test wonderfully--straight A students, 100+ on all exams, 4.0 GPAs--and for the most part, they are wonderful at memorizing and prepping for the test...but sometimes not much else. 

Some of them have no practical knowledge, little critical thinking or creativity, and are even sort of jerky. 

And others who test poorly may be well thought, articulate, hands-on, and good with people--I'd take a million of them. 

"Failing the test" is not necessarily getting it wrong...it may just be errant to the current educational and professional testing system that values memorization and spitting back over insight, innovation, and practical skills. 

The challenge is how do we compare and contrast students and professionals competing for schools and career advancement, if we don't easily have something standardized like a test to rally around. 

Maybe there is no getting away from more holistic assessments--where we look at bona fide life and career experience, a wide range of recommendations from teachers, coaches, and supervisors, hard and soft skills (including communications and interpersonal), professional and personal ethics, genuine interest in the pursuit, and the motivation to work hard and contribute.  

Tests--students cheat, educators game the system, memorization and robotic answers are the name of the game to get the A, and boring homogeneity prevails--but it's often the easy way out to evaluating candidates for a phony success. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 15, 2015

A Bunch Of Dummies

Took a photo from this children's book that someone left in the kosher Chinese restaurant--and it was sort of priceless.

There is a drawing of a ventriloquist with his puppet.

And it says, "All my friends are dummies,"

Often, it's tempting to think that we're so smart and "we're all that", but everyone else is just a dummy.

But we need to remember that in a way, really we're all just a bunch of dummies--now you didn't think I was going to say that, did you?

We are human, frail, mortal...and no one knows everything (hey, not even close).

My father used to joke saying, "I know nothing, and I can prove it!"

The truth is that all we really know is what G-d wants us to know; we say, what G-d permits our tongues to speak, and ultimately, we do, what G-d commands of us--there is no escaping it. 

In the big picture, we are but puppets and dummies in the hands of the omniscient creator.

For those with mega size egos (and usually nasty to match)...what G-d gives, he can easily take away, so don't be a real dummy. ;-)

(Source Photo: The Blumenthals)
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October 11, 2014

Taking A Bow

Wow--this is some an awesome piece of art!

Aside from the beauty of it, what do I think about looking at this?

Something like this:

Some people take a bow in arrogance and self-aggrandizement, while others are bowed in humbleness and grace.

Those who see only their own greatness fail to see all those people, factors, and most importantly, G-d's mercy that enabled them to achieve what they have. 

We are but agents of the heavenly maker above who endows us with creativity and the ability to capitalize on it. 

We should be bowed in thankfulness to G-d, but unfortunately all too often instead stare in the mirror admiring our own image that we imagine is so talented and successful because of who we are and what we ourselves have done--that we can't even contain our bursting self-satisfaction in wonderful selves. 

Yes, it's good to recognize when we do something good and when we make mistakes so that we can learn from them, but G-d is not only our one-time maker, but he gives us the knowledge, skills, abilities, and good fortune to succeed in what he wills. 

I remember being taught in Jewish day school that not a leaf falls from a tree without G-d wishing it--that G-d is not only the creator, but is intimately involved every moment with us and the world.  

Like the most brilliant computer that can calculate gazillions of calculations a second, G-d can orchestrate the fates of all his creations in a just and masterful way that takes everything we do and don't do into account.

May it be G-d's will to endow us with what we need to succeed and for us to be deserving of it, and to recognize from where it all comes and not be so in awe of ourselves that we fail to see our innate limitations and mortality that is us. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 22, 2014

For Everyone That Loves Reading

I thought this was a great picture for everyone that loves reading.

Whether you read from traditional paper books, newspapers, magazines, and journals, or you prefer reading from a tablet, smartphone, eReader, or browser. 

Reading expands our mind, challenges our thinking, and builds on our knowledge. 

Here's to reading...just about everything you can get your hands on. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 5, 2014

Archaic Federal Hiring Practices

So the Federal government has some archaic hiring practices.

Some common critiques of the system:

- While gone are the dreaded KSAs (knowledge, Skills, and ability essays), in it's place are what many could consider meaningless multiple choice questions that enable applicants to game the system and answer what they think or know is the right answer just to get the highest points. 

- Also, there is always the potential (however infrequently) that there is a favorite candidate of someone or someone who knows someone, but knowing doesn't necessarily mean best qualified, but rather well-networked or connected. 

To be fair, there are protections in the hiring system to include an oath of truthfulness on the application as well as security clearances which are used to help ensure accuracy. Additionally, there are the Merit System Principles that prohibit favoritism and nepotism of any sort.

However, when it comes to hiring, what you can't really do in the government is just plain and simple see and recognize talent and bring someone on board. 

Anyway, this came to mind today, when we ran again into this amazing lady at Starbucks. She works there right out of college. 

She's a barista and has the most amazing customer service skills I've seen in 25 years of professional experience. 

She remembers us every time we come in and recalls what we talked about on our last visit. She regularly asks about things like my kids talking their SATs, visiting colleges, and more. 

But she doesn't just do this with me, but with all her customers.  

She has a big welcoming hello, and smile for all of them, and doesn't just take their orders, but engages them as human beings. 

I tell you this young lady would be terrific as a customer service representative in my IT shop or any other...and if I were in the private sector or had my own company, yes, I'd conduct a more thorough interview and background on her, but then I'd probably shake hands on the spot and offer her a job. 

I can see her interacting with my customers, capturing their requirements, problem-solving, as well as routine troubleshooting through engagement with the customer and the subject matter experts.  

Why?

Because she is a natural with people and intuitively understands how to work with them, engage, and establish trust and good service ethos. 

However, if she applied on USAJOBS in the current system of hiring, I think she'd never make "the cert" (the list of qualified applicants that gets referred to the hiring manager), because she's currently working in a coffee shop. 

Something is wrong that we can't easily bring in young or old, talented people from the private sector or out of school, and grow them into federal service, even if they don't have the perfect checklist answers. 

Unfortunately, this is a problem in many bureaucratic-driven organizations, where if it's not checklist-driven, then it's usually not at all. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 15, 2013

Survival Is More Than An iPhone

Please see a new article by Andy Blumenthal at Government Technology

We "need to learn ever new technology skills and simultaneously retain, old tried and true, core survival and self-sufficiency." 


This is a serious topic, and there will come a time when the lights go out and those who blend old and new skills will survive, while unfortunately, others who don't, will not. 


Hope you enjoy the article. 


Andy


(Source Photo: here with attribution to U.S. Army Africa)

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September 29, 2013

Instructions For the Modern Age


We went apple picking today and it was a nice time, thank G-d. 

The weather was beautiful and the apples were plentiful and delicious. 

One funny thing that I noticed was this sign with instructions for how to pick apples. 

Like we need instructions for one of the most natural things in the world. 

Even in the Bible, in the Garden of Eden, the first man and woman figured this one out. 

Perhaps, with all of our technology we now possess, there is a feeling or realization that we have lost touch with our more primitive instincts. 

Often, I wonder if a major calamity were to actually strike, how many of us, especially in the big cities would know the basic skills to survive. 

Heck, we can't even leave the house without our smartphones--we'd feel naked--like Adam and Eve after eating from the Tree of Knowledge. 

Technology has made us more capable, but it has left us lacking knowledge on how to grow things, build things, fish and hunt, and much more, leaving us in many ways more vulnerable.

How can we live in an information age, and yet be stupider for it?

As I learned in college, you can have wonderful book knowledge, but have little to no practical knowledge.

I would say we need to do a much better job balancing the teaching of theory and practice...so we won't need signs that have to tell us how to pick an apple anymore. ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 18, 2013

ROBOTS Wanted!


Good video from The Atlantic on automation and the concern about Robots taking our jobs.

From the 1800's, when "the Luddites,"--British textile workers--protested the loom to the 1900's where 40% of our nations job were farm workers and now it's just 2%...the question is where does automation stop?

Very likely it doesn't (thanks to evolution)!

As robots can first mimic and then outdo their human developers and as artificial intelligence gets more intelligent, robots are moving from farm to factory to white collar jobs.

Computers and robotics, once relegated to repetitive tasks like on the assembly line, are becoming good at winning Jeopardy and as a surgical platform

The bar is being raised not just on technology, but on humans to retrain to ever more sophisticated thinking and communicating positions (from software developers and product designers to branding and communications specialists). 

People are constantly evolving to think and innovate better and are in turn building ever more capable technologies to replace more human jobs and leading once again to the need for even higher-level human performance. 

Progress--a never-ending cycle of outperforming ourselves. 

Where does it stop--the attainment of ever-higher levels of knowledge and productivity leading to heavenly bliss here on Earth or perhaps large elements of burnout, breakdown, and potentially self-destruction.

I often hear people recalling and reminiscing about earlier, simpler, and "better times."

The Wall Street Journal (17 August 2013) just had such an editorial looking to bring back the tranquility and idleness of hot summer Augusts, instead now replaced by more work and school. 

At the same time, very few of us would really want to go back in time before all the technology-wunderkind that we have now and enjoy (many seem think more like you'll have to pry that iPhone from my cold, dead hands!). 

The challenge: Robots may be taking jobs, but we need to stay ahead and to master not only ever higher levels of human knowledge and skills, but also the good sense to reconcile with the technology blitz and be able to actually find the time and inner-peace to sit back and enjoy it all as well. ;-)
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May 24, 2013

Willy Wonka Wears Google Glass TOO

I can only say that my fascination with Google continues to grow daily. 

Years ago, I used to joke, "What is this G-O-O-G-L-E?"

But now, I know and marvel at how Google is information!

And every type of information from news and facts to shopping and entertainment: 

Research is Google.
eCommerce is Google. 
Entertainment is Google. 

Google this...Google that. 

Archive, index, search, discover, access...learn, grow.

Google has quite literally ushered in a new age of enlightenment, no really!

The focus is on information...Google's mission statement is:

"Organize the world's information and make it universally acceptable and useful."

If you believe that knowledge and learning is one of the core underpinnings for personal growth and global development then you can appreciate how Google has been instrumental in unleashing the information age we are living in. 

Of course, information can be used for good and for evil--we still have free choice. 

But hopefully, by building not only our knowledge, but also understanding of risks, consequences, each other, and our purpose in life--we can use information to do more good than harm (not that we don't make mistakes, but they should be part of our learning as opposed to coming from malevolent intentions). 

Google is used for almost 2/3 of all searches.

Google has over 5 million eBooks and 18 million tunes.

Google's YouTube has over 4 billion hours of video watched a month.

Google's Blogger is the largest blogging site with over 46 million unique visitors in a month

But what raises Google as the information provider par excellence is not just that they provide easy to use search and access to information, but that they make it available anytime, anywhere.

Google Android powers 2/3 of global smartphones

Google Glass has a likely market potential for wearable IT and augmented reality of $11B by 2018.

Google's Driverless Car will help "every person [traveling] could gain lost hours back for working, reading, talking, or searching the Internet."

Google Fiber is bringing  connection speeds 100x faster than traditional networking to Kansas City, Provo, and Austin. 

Google is looking by 2020 to bring access to the 60% of the world that is not yet online

Dr. Astro Teller who oversees Google[x] lab and "moonshot factory" says, "we are serious as a heart attack about making the world a better place," and he compares themselves to Willy Wonka's magical chocolate factory. (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

I like chocolate and information--and yes, both make the world a better place. ;-)

(Source Photo: here by (a)artwork)


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December 3, 2012

The Information High


Kids_and_technology

A new article by Andy Blumenthal called "The Information High" at Public CIO Magazine (29 November 2012).

"In addition to being slaves to our things--including technology gadgets--we are also addicted to the data and information they serve up."

Hope you enjoy! ;-)

Andy

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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August 18, 2012

How Good Is Our DNA

Where do we store the vast and expanding information in our universe? 

These days it's typically in 0 and 1s--binary code--on computer chips. 

But according to the Wall Street Journal (18 August 2012), in the future, it could be encoded in the genetic molecules of DNA.

DNA has "vastly more capacity for their size then today's computer chips and drives"--where a thumb size amount could store the entire Internet--or "1.5 milligrams, about half the weight of a house ant could hold 1 petabyte of data, which equals to 1,000 1-terabyte hard drives."

As opposed to binary code, DNA will store information as strands made up of four base chemicals: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C) and thymine (T). 

Just like letters in the alphabet make up words, sequencing of these 4 base chemicals can store biological instructions (e.g. 3 billion for a person) or any other information. 

Using DNA for storage involves 4 key steps: 

1) Encoding information into binary code
2) Synthesizing the chemical molecules
3) Sequencing them in a string to hold the information
4) Decoding the molecules back into information

Overall, DNA is seen as a "stable, long-term archive for ordinary information"--such as books, files, records, photos, and more.

Researchers have actually been able to store an entire book of genetic engineering--with 53,426 words--into actual DNA, and "if you wanted to have your library encoded in DNA, you could probably do that now."

With the cost declining for synthesizing and sequencing DNA, this type of data storage may become commercially practical in the future.

And with the amount of information roughly doubling every 2 years, large amounts of reliable and cost-effective memory remains an important foundation for the future of computing. 

Frankly, when we talk about storing so much information in these minute areas, it is completely mind-boggling--really no different than the corollary of imaging all the stars in vastness of sky.

It is almost incredible to me that we have people that can not only understand these things, but make them work for us. 

With NASA's Curiosity Rover exploring Mars over 34 million miles away, and geneticists storing libraries of information in test tubes of DNA coding, we are truly expanding our knowledge at the edges of the great and small in our Universe. 

How far can we continue to go before we discover the limitations to our quest or the underlying mysteries of life itself?

What is also curious to me is how on one hand, we are advancing our scientific and technological knowledge as a society, yet on the other, as individuals, we seem to be losing our knowledge for even basic human survival. 

How many people these days, are proficient on the computer in an office setting, but couldn't survive in the wilderness for even a few days. 

Our skills sets are changing drastically--this is the age of the microwave, but knowing how to cook is a lost art to many. 

So are we really getting smarter or just engaging our minds in a new direction--I hope we have the DNA to do more than just one! ;-)

(Source Photo: adapted from here with attribution to Allen Gathmen)

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February 29, 2012

Progressing From Data to Wisdom

I liked this explanation (not verbatim) by Dr. Jim Chen of data, information, knowledge, and wisdom.

- Data: This is an alphanumeric entity and/or symbol (ABC, 123, !@#...)

- Information: This is when entities are related/associated to each other and thereby derive meaning. (Information = Data + Meaning)

- Knowledge: This is information applied to context. (Knowledge = Data + Meaning + Context)

- Wisdom: This is knowledge applied to multiple contexts. (Wisdom = Data + Meaning + (Context x N cases)).

I'd like to end this blog with a short quote that I thought sort of sums it up:

"A man may be born to wealth, but wisdom comes only with length of days." - Anonymous
(Source Photo: here)

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