Takeaway: Conceptions of Authority and Truth are changing, the question is are they changing because of culture or technology. And if they are changing, is it a bad thing?
My general review of The Next Story: Life and Faith After The Digital Explosion is basically very positive. I do not want to distract from the fact that in general I think this was a very helpful book and one that many people would benefit from reading. But the parts that I most disagreed with revolved around Challies understanding of truth and authority.
Initially, Challies has a discussion of Russell Ackoff‘s DIKW model. Ackoff suggests that we move from Data (simple description) to Information (answers basic questions like who, what, where, when) to Knowledge (information that has been owned and processed so a person can interact with other types of information) and finally to Wisdom (the application of knowledge, life experience to make good decisions). Data and information about about the accumulation. Knowledge is about the comparisons. And wisdom is about the application. Challies makes the very useful progression a focus of how our use of education has changed. Rote memory is much less important because the basic facts are always available. The problems according to Challies, Nicholas Carr and others is that we are in a race to accumulate data and information and do not seem to spend much time with knowledge and wisdom. Part of this is availability of information. If a person only has access to dozens of books you will think much more about the individual books and ideas within the books. If you have access to virtually unlimited data then the inclination is to spend less time on any particular idea. In many ways, I think this is true partially. Many people know lots about a little. But increased specialization also means that people have more time, and are rewarded because they know a lot about a few things. So while I think that for the average person, there might be a temptation toward data/information and not knowledge/wisdom, I do not think this true of society as a whole.