The family and I are headed to Anaheim, California for a hockey tournament and Disneyland as I write this. (my wife is driving, I’m blogging)
We just went through Needles, California (near my hometown of Lake Havasu City, Arizona) and my wife asked semi-rhetorically “Why would you name your town Needles?” “There’s no positive connotation. Cactus? Immunization? What’s the deal?”
Being the digital guy that I am, I whipped out the iPhone and went to Wikipedia, and discovered within 10 seconds that Needles was named for “the needles, a formation of pointy rocks on the Arizona side of the Colorado River.”
It’s important to note that I lived within one hour of Needles for 17 years. I never knew how Needles got its name – until now. I guess when I lived in the area, I didn’t care enough to go through the machinations necessary to learn the answer. These Herculean info-retrieval challenges might have included:
- Calling information. Finding a phone number for city offices in Needles. Calling them. Being transferred multiple times, hoping to find someone in the city that knew the derivation of its name.
- Going to the city library. Locating a persnickety reference librarian. Sifting through stacks of books to hopefully find one with information about Needles. Then, scanning that book to find the answer (in theory).
My estimation of best-case scenario to find out why Needles is called Needles in the past = 30 minutes. Just now, it took me longer to write this sentence than it took me to find the answer.
Everyone is a Wise Man
It strikes me as both exhilirating and terrifying that my children (currently enraptured by their Nintendo DS in the back) will live in an age when everything is knowable. No conjecture. No mysteries. No ability for parents to make up entirely fake answers to make inquisitive kids stop asking inane questions.
When everything is knowable, doesn’t it change inherently the nature of what’s valuable professionally? Doesn’t the balance of power shift from those that know stuff through study or experience, to those that don’t need to know, but know where to look?
Being a master of finding – understanding boolean search, and database structures, and the future semantic Web, is likely to be more valued than being a master of an actual discipline.
Does that scare you as much as it scares me?
(photo by Stewart)