Tired Old Culture

How much better would our conversations be if we weren’t all drawing from the same overused cultural and intellectual catalog? How much more interesting a world would we live in if governments and school boards and public intellectuals stopped trying to define what “everybody ought to know”?

Whether “high” culture (opera & Oprah’s summer reading list) or “low” culture (Top 40 radio and 24 hr news), we all so often seem to be drawing, deeply or shallowly, from the same pool of art, literature, news, history, etc.

What would happen if we broke out of the educational mold that says there should be a mold? What if we relied instead on our individual interests and passions to define objectives, and letting information (and those that convey it) be judged by how well it helps us achieve real outcomes?

What if we tapped the enormous knowledge resources at our fingertips in the modern age to access an unheard wealth of information and skills? What if we blazed trails to fully specialized, wildly idiosyncratic, personalized knowledge sets? What if you couldn’t make assumptions about what people should have learned, or should know? What if instead your base assumption was that they had leveraged the modern digital ecosystem to become bleeding edge experts in topics you weren’t even aware existed? What if that made us more interdependent, more social, more engaged, as we sought out those whose expertise complemented our own, filling needs where our own focus left gaps?

Jeez… How cool would EVERY conversation be in that world?

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