The Wikipedia gap

I don't know about you, but when I hire someone, or go to the doctor or the architect or an engineer, I could care less about how good they are at memorizing or looking up facts. I want them to be great at synthesizing ideas, the faster and more insightfully, the better.

Please don't tell me that Wikipedia isn't a real encyclopedia or one that can't be trusted. Perhaps it can't be trusted if you're prepping for a Presidential debate, but it is sure good enough to help me learn what I need to learn--which is how to quickly take a bunch of facts and turn them into a new and useful idea.

Here's what just about every exam ought to be: "Use Firefox to find the information you need to answer this question:" And as the internet gets smarter, the questions are going to have to get harder. Which is a good thing.

Until teachers get unstuck, our kids are going to be stuck and so will we.

This changes everything

This is a story about tools and bravery and marketing.

The tools: when you give a kid a net connection, access to wikipedia and to the rest of the world, things change fast. Things you wouldn't necessarily predict. Like a ten year old who can diagnose his dad's illness. Or a farmer that can ask his daughter to find out where to get a new part for the tractor. Or...


The marketing: Everything, even laptops for kids, works its way through the innovation diffusion curve. That means that most countries, most organizations and most communities aren't going to adopt this tool for a few years. It doesn't matter if it's perfect... these things take time. Smart marketing embraces the curve and doesn't insist that it must change for this project, right now.

One kid (or five kids) at a time. It's enough. It'll happen.