At a Christmas party I attended last weekend a discussion evolved about the “curse” of Google and the accessibility of information children have today. Being a “glass half full” person my position quickly morphed into supporting the availability of information and the fact that like anything, it can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how one uses it.
In 1897 a little girl named, Virginia O’Hanlon wrote the following letter to the New York Sun newspaper.
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Little Virginia did not have Google, or television for that matter. The newspaper was “the” source of information for current events, in fact commercial radio did not become available until the 1920’s.
The famous reply, written by Francis P. Church of the Sun started like this: “Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the scepticism of a sceptical age.” (Read the rest of the reply at http://www.newseum.org/yesvirginia/ )
But have we all become affected by the scepticism of a sceptical age?
A simple Google search asking the question “Is Santa Claus real?” generated 33,400,000 hits and the first entry is a video of Santa coming down the chimney: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dp7zWs8fHeE
In fact there are more entries validating the existence of Santa than not. (At least in the first 4-5 pages) So what does that say about technology and information?
- Information is exactly that, information, not necessarily fact
- One must interpret, analyze and draw conclusions based on information
- All conclusions are not created equal
- Scepticism in a sceptical age can be a blessing or a curse. Depends on you.
My best to all for a Merry Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) and a prosperous 2012.