Tuesday 7 April 2009: limitings and digest
I wonder at what stage of human cultural development it first became necessary to specialise and not attempt to keep on top of absolutely everything, knowledge-wise. Did some people take wheels, fire and metallurgy whilst others concentrated on hunter-gathering and that new 'agriculture' thing everything was grunting and gesticulating about? Now that there's so much more finely-detailed (yet mostly second-or-more-hand) information (and information about the presence of information (or news about news (or news about news about news (and the comments on each layer)))) available it doesn't take long to highlight the finite time available in which to follow the various lines of interest a person might have, especially when there are jobs to be done if the jobs to be done aren't directly related to the things out about which one wishes to find. Sometimes the approximate shape and density of the cloud has to suffice. Knowing that there's something somewhere is sometimes enough as you don't need to remember the details of the fact when it's safely stored elsewhere, though remembering that something exists and remembering enough to be able to find it are quite different. I remember playing some form of teacher-sanctioned allegorical game-type thing at school whereby someone knowing buggerall was set loose amongst lots of other people who each knew little bits of information or transformations on the bits of information held by others, sort of like an RPcomputerG where little factlets have to be collected from different people or things in different places (often revisiting them in the light of further information) in order to solve a puzzle sufficiently to progress. The exact mechanisms of the brain's cataloguing, index and search tools have yet to be explained but it often seems that wandering around and rootling, finding related or unrelated things and progressing accordingly if they offer anything useful are the only ways to find lost things so it's only logical that the collective information-store of the world (created by the same sorts of mind) often suffers similarly from haphazard arrangements and erratic labelling.