Knowledge and knowledge

Many have been discussing lately social media monitoring of clergy and candidates/ordinands. A post by sheyduck on Everyday Theology got me thinking about my one hesitancy regarding the issue.As I posted there…

There is a tendency of some who do not understand social media, to use it as an evaluation method, rather than understanding online discussions as works in progress. 20 years ago if you were to publish something, it was final and complete and authoritative… Now, you push a button and your best understanding of something at a particular moment is out there… But it can be edited and critiqued and the knowledge can grow in comments and follow-ups. It’s a different way of thinking about what is true, and I worry that some who monitor ordinands conversations won’t understand that.

Earl Creps described generational differences in knowledge in his book, Reverse Mentoring: How Young Leaders Can Transform the Church and Why We Should Let Them. I heard him talk about the book to a small group at University of Northern Iowa’s Wesley Foundation.

One of the things that struck me most was an analogy he used regarding knowledge.

He described folks his parents age (60+) who saw Knowledge as something important, rare and treasured. It was kept inside of beautiful buildings that you had to have special passes to access, aka, libraries.

People in his own generation (40-60) started to have access in much more profound ways. At the library, a whole world of microfilm was available, the internet started making its way in and so the scope of Knowledge expanded. Tools helped you to access what you needed.

But younger generations see knowledge in a completely different way. Knowledge itself has become a tool. There is so much knowledge, and all of it at your fingertips, that it is almost a worthless, commodity. Instead, its about using the hacking the system, using the knowledge for other things like community, status, work, etc. It is chopped up into bits and bytes and reassembled in a thousand different ways on blogs and forums.

I understand that Knowledge isn’t one right answer out there, but the way that knowledge changes and grows and expands through conversation, exploration, experience, revelation, and any number of other means. That means my answers will never be complete. That means I will probably have more questions than answers. That means what I write or say or do might never end up in a vault of information we call a library.

And that means that there will be doubt, waffling, changing stories, confessions, errors, and growth shown on these pages… And similar pages from my peers.

My only fear is that someone “monitoring” our interactions will mistake our quest for knowledge through these forums as not living up to the standards of truth from another generation…

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