Thursday, 18 October 2007

A world of knowledge

When I was a student I can’t honestly say that I often found myself enthralled by my studies. However, apart from playing pool in the student bar, some of my best moments were spent on dark winter afternoons in the University Library or UL.

In its labyrinthine corridors it was possible to convince yourself that there was the entire world of learning captured under one roof and that you could actually stumble upon some previously undiscovered gem of knowledge. If you’ve seen library the ‘Name Of The Rose’ you’ve probably got the rough idea.

And the best bit of all was that the knowledge gained was usually completely random and irrelevant to anything that I was supposed to be studying. The perfect education for a renaissance man or a trivia bore – whichever you prefer.

I know it sounds a bit trite, and I’m probably showing my age here, but it never fails to blow my mind that sat at my desk bored shitless at work (a not infrequent condition) I can now wander around the virtual library that is this inter-web thingy and experience the same kind of wonder.

So I’ve just followed a trail of links that took me from articles about Ta Moko (a sacred Maori tattoo practice), to the liberation struggles of indigenous peoples, to the commoditisation and commercialisation of their cultures, to questions of racial identity and heritage in the west, to racism and the far-right.

There’s obviously a risk here that we’re all going to evolve into sad uber-geeks. But I’m basically an optimist and I find all this easy access to knowledge pretty inspiring for the future of the planet.

No comments: