Knowledge vs Wisdom…

♫ The lips of the righteous teach many,
But fools die for want of wisdom.
The rich man wealth is in his city;
Do you hear, do you hear, can you understand?! ♫

Lyrics and Music by Bob Marley, recorded by Bob Marley & the WailersWisdom“.

Omar Ha-Redeye’s last post on the iPhone and Privacy caused me to reflect. In particular, he started a train of thought that led to the conclusion that courtesy of the Internet, finding out answers to questions (i.e. the search for knowledge) has never been easier. One can seek information on legal cases, quantum physics, recipes or even song lyrics, quickly and easily – and gain knowledge at an unprecedented rate. Compared to traditional research in libraries, the ‘transaction cost’ in following down a thought and expanding your knowledge via the internet is exceedingly low. In economic terms, given that your communication/physical costs are already ‘sunk’ or spent (your computer, internet connection and any costs associated with the heating and lighting of the space you are occupying at the moment), then the marginal cost to you to yield to curiosity and follow a thought seeking greater knowledge is essentially just your time.

However, this yields a curious situation – are we any better at making decisions as a result of the increased access to knowledge? Stated another way, is being called to knowledge helping us to achieve greater wisdom? We know that wisdom is not something that can be learned – rather it is something that is forged as a result of life’s experiences. Wisdom used to be imparted by mentoring – by gaining knowledge as well as judgment by working closely with one more experienced than us; learning to see the world thru their eyes and in the process, learning to judge what we see thru our own eyes.

Today mentoring – that all too precious elixir – is increasingly hard to find. Instead we have been taught the way towards a lesser god – increased knowledge. One can only hope that somehow we also figure out the path towards increased wisdom as easily..


  1. David –

    I want to step away from the debate of data versus information versus knowledge versus wisdom. The lines are too fuzzy.

    Clearly the internet has given us quicker access to more “stuff” than ever in the history of mankind. Some of that stuff is good and some of it is bad. There is as much junk science on the internet as there is valid science.

    We need to focus on filtering content, recognizing signs to trust information, validation and connections. Too many people rely on Wikipedia as a source of truth without recognizing its faults and weaknesses. The same can be said about any media source. Even Slaw.

  2. What the web has afforded me is the ability to readily connect with people who have interests similar to mine, both locally and across geographies, with an ease previously unimaginable. I can then meet with them in person or via Skype and share ideas to further my own understanding and, hopefully, knowledge and wisdom. I have never learned so much as in the past two years, with the exception of perhaps the first two years of my life.