I still remember the immense, leather-bound, multi-volume sets of books that made up the encyclopedia. Britannica and World Book stand out in my memory most. In production for almost 250 years, Brittanica is the oldest English-language encyclopedia. World Book, conceived during the First World War, is possibly one of the largest single repositories of human knowledge mass-produced for public purchase. It had everything from the great inventors to the great artists, political history, and economic development. Its contributors and editors have included 110 Nobel Prize winners and five American presidents.
When my parents were kids, both of their parents bought sets to keep in their homes, and these volumes were their source of knowledge for curiosity and academic use. Have a high school history test on the American Revolution? There wasn’t a better source for supplementing class material. English paper on the life of Shakespeare? My parents practically had a biography of his life to refer to sitting on their shelves. New editions came out over the years and the “changing of the books” became a tradition of sorts, as the parade of time marched on and human experience needed updating. My father still remembers the special book case the volumes were kept in.
A lot has changed since the days of the Encyclopedia, and more than just the shift of stored knowledge from print to web archival. Today, the impetus of knowledge is toward not just knowing about, but knowing how. Concomitant with the proliferation of information has been the proliferation of expectation, an expectation of us all having the tools and understanding necessary to apply this knowledge toward other goals.
After almost three years as a college student, I have come to appreciate the value of understanding, and I’ve realized that no true learning can come from the mere presentation of facts; reading an archive of statistics, data points, and other unidimensional truths can only get one so far, and this distance is not far enough. True sharing of knowledge is the sharing of connections between the facts – the past, the future, and the process connecting one to the other. We must teach each other how to see the bigger pictures.
This is why I’m so excited about Proper Channel. Alok and Will brought me on board to bring a student’s perspective to process-based knowledge, and it’s been a great experience. I will be covering essential processes for high school and college students, among other things, for our growing web tool- college applications, course registration, housing plans, jobs, and internships, among other things. I’m glad to be on the team and will be sharing my developments as they come along as well!