Awareness versus Knowledge

Posted 1 year, 1 month ago | Originally written on 13 Mar 2023

It goes without saying that there is a difference between being aware and actually knowing that something is the case. What must be said, though, is that the preponderance of information in its various forms has made us lean more towards awareness than knowledge; that is, we are far more likely to be aware that X is the case that to know the actual meaningful details about X. This is what W. Edwards Demig refers to as the distinction between knowledge and information: "knowledge", he says, "has temporal spread" meaning that there is some applicability to knowledge that is atuned to some actual use case while information is just a bunch of unrelated facts.

In particular, the Internet greatly facilitates the spread of awareness without advancing knowledge. This is not to suggest that the Internet cannot advance knowledge---it very well can. The majority of sources of curated knowledge (meaning some effort has been applied towards verification and validation of the contents) are usually behind paywalls: academic journals and books, mainly. While our access to information is at an all-time high, this says little about our access to knowledge.

One can be radical in selecting the sources to rely on for knowledge. In my opinion, newsprint and news outlets in general have come under heavy competition from clickable forms of information and have inadvertently had to adjust how they gain and retain attention with the unfortunate sideeffect that they function as 'agents of awareness' rather than knowledge; most of what is published has little value to most people but is merely excitatory towards provoking storms of responses.