Monday, June 28, 2010

The 3 R's + Retrieval = your new peripheral brain

Reading, Riting, and Rithmetic -- the classic 3 R's taught in our Industrial Age school system, are slowly starting to come to terms with the new digital age.  Lee Rainie proposed a new addition, the 4th R that he calls Retrieval.  I first heard of this a couple of weeks ago during his web cast for the World Future Society "Internet Evolution--Where Hyperconnectivity and Ambient Intimacy Take Us"

Google has totally changed how we think, learn, and remember.  In medical school in the 80's we had a 5x7 three ringed notebook crammed with medical "pearls" -- bits of priceless medical knowledge that, in theory, would be at our fingertips during a patient medical crisis -- when we didn't have time to run to the hospital medical library.  Along with this looseleaf binder, we also stuffed the pockets of our white coats with as many spiral bound 5x7 abridged textbooks as the coat would hold.  Google changed everything.  Nowadays, medical students don't really need to "learn" as much as they need know how to "retrieve" something from the web in a microsecond.  When you think about it--is there really big difference between "knowing" vs "retrieving"?   In med school we called these 5x7 life savers our "peripheral brains"--an attached brain that resided in our pocket instead of our cranium.   When will a body of knowledge, the field of medicine as just one example, become so large that it is unrealistic to expect any human to "know it all"?

Rainie proposes that Retrieval is now the new 4th R.  I totally agree, and it is not an optional skill -- it is mandatory.  Just as in the field of medicine, where it is IMPOSSIBLE  to know it all--these are fast becoming the days when being familiar with something, and knowing where to retrieve the details, will be considered the new "knowing". 

So if Retrieval is the new "knowing", how does one know which Google search results are to be true and trusted -- and which are not .   Taking this all one step further, the new "knowing" will be based on which web based answers you consider to be "true".  Finding the truth in a long list of search results will be the future challenge of "knowing".   

Your two future challenges will be:  
1--Creating a set of trusted sources to be the "files" in your web based peripheral  brain.
2--How do you or your company become a trusted source for others?  

The  "Information Age" will have to evolve to the "Trusted Source Age".

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