The amount of information we consume everyday is more than one person in the past had access to in his or her whole lifetime.
Books used to be copied by hand in monasteries. They were treasured possessions. Not everyone could read. So if you actually knew facts about different countries, history or religions it was rare and powerful. You could abuse it for your own good by making yourself look wise and let other people be your minions. Or, if you wanted to share and help spread your knowledge you could go to the first universities to which people flocked from near and far just to catch a few crumbs of information that otherwise they’d never be able to feast their ears upon.
All of this is enshrined in the old formula of “Knowledge is Power”.
But is it, really?
In a time where virtually all information is accessible to anyone its value drops proportionally to its dissemination. (It’s like: If everyone owns a Roll’s Royce it’s nothing special.)
Information & Experience
People do still go to universities. But in most cases, they don’t come for the knowledge. Most of the people come for achieving educational statuses that they can use as stepping-stones in their career. (I’m not saying that people who are purely interested in the knowledge aren’t going to university but it’s just that there are so many alternatives for information-hungry people.)
Let’s take an example: Why do people come to organizations like Learn Out Live? We’re not making people into “bachelors”, “masters”, “doctors”, “professors” etc.
Nevertheless, a lot of people come to us to learn the language of their choice.
They don’t come for the information! The manuals for German verb conjugations, English tense formation etc. are all over the web, just one click away. I don’t believe that people are too lazy to simply read up on those facts. Quite on the contrary. It’s simply not what they need. So, if it’s not for the knowledge that people are seeking out educational organizations like us, what is it, then?
The answer is simple: Experience!
If we stick with the example of language learning, information about structure and vocabulary is NOT enough. You need an actual experience of listening, speaking and engaging in the cultural aspects.
There’s a difference between “studying” a language from the outside as a linguist and actually immersing yourself in it to gain a first-hand experience as its speaker.
A big difference!
In the same way, if you expand this example there’s a difference between “knowing” about life and actually immersing yourself in it. That’s not at all saying that it’s bad to “study” but experience has one advantage towards knowledge.
If you collect information you’ll see a significant increase in quantity. Read a Wikipedia article every day and you know what I mean.
But if you go out and start immersing yourself in experiences, they don’t add up linearly. On the contrary, repeated experiences lead to a deepening and increase in quality.
Information is about ownership.
Experience is about practice.