Drowning in Information, Starving for Knowledge
By Tanvir Ahmed Siddiqui
“We are drowning in information but starving for Knowledge” said by John Nesbit long ago. But that is true even for today when we remain more & more informed but so desperately lack in knowledge. To understand and appreciate this concept we need to firstly acknowledge the difference between Knowledge and Information. We can define them both as related, yet mutually exclusive concepts? I have been thinking with the issue particularly when our lives and livelihood is mostly dependant to information that we get mainly through media. Knowledge consists of specific and unique facts, truths, causes and affects of original sources like judgments, decisions, and methodologies and know how? Knowledge is accumulated and integrated and held over time to handle specific situations and challenges. Information is interpreted, motivated or rather fabricated consists of data mostly organized purposely to describe and tell a particular situation or condition in a desired way. If I call my bank and ask Hello my account # is 9876 what is my balance? The call recipient instantly tells me my balance is 1500/-. This is a swift exchange of specific, to the point, factual knowledge at both ends. But if I call my bank, convey my account # and ask for my balance the recipients tells me the system is down please call again. I call again and this time a different recipient says the concerned Clark is not on his seat. I call third time and finally come to know, sorry as a matter of fact as per our policy we do not convey account balances on phone. In that duration of all those three calls those different recipients in their individual capacities of passing on the information kept on testing my patience and kept on playing with my time.
Information has multi-dimensions with endless number of twisted ifs and buts but knowledge as truth is always unique, precise, to the point, actual, factual and exact. Telling us all about . whos? & whys? wheres? and whats? To be more explicit about the concept, knowledge in my opinion is exact happening and progression of a particular event and its cause and effect directly on people living in that particular moment whereas Information is the historical or aftermath explanation of that event. Explanation thereafter which is called as news report of course depending upon understanding blended and mixed with personal point of view, ideas and opinion of the reporter and moderator. Therefore today it is so easy to find information twisted with number of ifs & buts, but really so hard to gain knowledge that is factual, to the point & precise about who’s and whys. This is happening especially since information mainly for commercial reasons but pertinently for certain objectives has been pronounced as Infotainment. Unfortunately this fabrication, fascination, commercialization and rather monetization of information has been purposely blended with entertainment basically for exploitation of average mind.
Through modernization of information technology and expanse of info networks this infotainment phobia has rather widened gaps of mutual mistrust in miles and miles not only within and across societies but also between nations and states. Today individually and collectively in our own groups and factions because of this Information mainly without Knowledge we are either made to collide or motivated to cooperate within and across our societies.
Because of this infotainment syndrome we are mentally and physically transformed every next day from Hate to Love and Love to Hate that means we are driven mentally to act physically. Under this information warfare we even tend to live or compelled to die. Through Infotainment shots we are made to experience a particular situation and to react in a designed way. This is called Situated-ness or Situated actions that are brought in place purposely by change agents of forces. At the same time those who have the actual and factual knowledge about the cause and affect of any pleasant or unpleasant event or situation of local, national and international importance either remain inaccessible or in state of defiance because of their own hidden and obvious reasons. On the other hand 24/7 world of infotainment has to keep on rolling and plying at its own speed on highways and freeways of financial and political marathon. To keep up twenty four hours by seven days expedition of infotainment, media stalwarts fill their time slots with their own likes of information blended with sugar and spice through new and new forms and ideas of glamorous, fascinating, seducing and thrilling presentations.
Since our independence we have variety of information about division of Indo-Pak boundaries but have no knowledge how when & where decisions were made and what actually made all this happen? We have loads of Information about illness and inefficacy of Quid e Azam thereafter day of independence but no knowledge what actually happened that caused his demise? We have manifold of information about the murder of Quid e Millat Khan Liaqat Ali khan but have no knowledge who did why and what? We have ton loads of information without knowledge about 1965 Indo-Pak war and subsequent Tashkent Pact and than war of 1971 and fall of East Pakistan in aftermath of the shameful surrender of 90000 Pak Army Troops and subsequent Shimla Agreement between ZAB and Indira Gandhi that actually threw away Kashmir issue in the back yards. Despite knowing so much about white elephants we actually no nothing about death sentence of ZAB. We also have ton loads of information about rise & than fall of USSR in our neighborhood and than C130 Air crash of Mango kraits taking along elite line of Genl Zia Ul Haq along with our star soldiers. We also have truck loads of information without knowledge about debacle of Kargil and aftermath of Airplane hijacking case, life imprisonment and than exile of Sharif Bros. Than comes the reign of yet another ambitious and gallant Commando Genl. Mushurruf who made us all trembling in fear of Stone Age. What actually made him turn his face away from Talibaans taking u turn towards Washington to throw the nation at the alter of continued siege of Terror and Drones. Than comes the return and assassination of BB in backdrop of NRO and specially the notorious Will that was so efficiently en-cashed and capitalized by the clan of her spouse to the extent of taking oath as President of this country. Here comes on the scene and there goes away at hoodwink of moment the hero of our national honor, dignity and sovereignty the one Mr. Raymond Davis.
Same Mr. Raymond Davis who left for us mounts of information but no knowledge about what he came for and how he has gone away? We have drones full of information but no knowledge where these bloody drones come from and where they go away? Every next week energy prices take another leap forward but we don’t know what Mr. Kerry and Mr. Lugar are up to? We get loads of information about irritating and sickening load shedding and about the short fall of over 6000MW (so far) but we have no knowledge where the hell that real power of this land of pure has actually gone?
I read somewhere a quote of Lord Chesterfield: “Chapter of Knowledge is too short but chapter of accidents is very long”. Same is the case with infotainment syndrome that hides that real knowledge somewhere far behind colorful and artificial smoke screens and thick layers of extensive information. Whereas without knowledge we are left over here on darkling plan swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight where ignorant armies of our shattered dreams clash by day & night. The whole country is in state of continued defiance and denial only because we are too much informed about what’s happening but really have no knowledge what the hell is really happening? As said by Walter Mondale: “Anyone not confused here does not understand what’s going on? If you are sure you understand everything that is going on , you are hopelessly confused and perhaps that is the main idea