Wikipedia: Upload your brain to the internet 

There's no doubt that there is an abundance of information online and the ever faster findability of answers a click away. With this, the memorisation of details become less necessary. There is no urgent need to learn trivial facts, as a quick click on Wikipedia will give the answers. We rely on the web to be an extension of our brain. In this age of information, it matters more that you can concentrate rather than how much you know. We have the power to work collaboratively, we use ‘wikis’ that are developed between a community, allowing users to edit and change content. This has undoubtedly enhanced human intelligence, as now the relationship with knowledge has become less static and one-sided, everyone can share and write what they want and you don’t have to be an established professor, author or scientist to do so.

It’s important to ask questions, to be interested and curious about your world and reality. Wikipedia can enhance this or hinder it, dependant on how it is used. There is a tendency to belittle Wikipedia, the same was said about the printing press, people were scared that the new availability of information would change actual knowledge intake, and it did, but for the better. We are being constantly told that we can’t or don’t concentrate, that we live in a YOLO (You Only Live Once) generation and are too lazy with short attention spans, so we abbreviate words to save time. In actuality, we have come to learn to digest information into bite-sized chunks. There is still an urge to learn and to know but it’s almost as if the request for information has become information itself.

Hyperlinks are used and abused on Wikipedia, linking you in and out of a topic until, before you know about it, you are reading about Lucky the Norwegian dog that saved its owner's life, when you’d actually intended to find out what Norway's most popular supermarket was. Each fact is as mundane as the last, and as pointless. Hyperlinks are like footnotes, instead of pointing you to the source and making you do the work, the information is laid out. They create and invite you into a web of particulars. They can cause you to lose attention, jumping around from little blue link to little blue link confused, with the promise of more irrelevant information you never knew you needed. The more you know the more you realise you don’t know. This is the moment when you become unsure if what you’ve just read is the truth, as everything becomes generalised, vague, ambiguous and somewhat chaotic. The brain is not as comprehensive as the internet, it can’t handle this level of pointless knowledge. It’s obvious that hyperlinks are useful when used thoughtfully and occasionally, but when you get bombarded with a sea of blue outsources you can drown from TMI (Too Much Information). What is the cost of this information overload and how can you separate trivia and waffle from cold hard fact?

How can a society, with the most accessible knowledge capacity in history, that complains about the vast amounts of information overload suddenly not care if fact is fiction and truth is lies? 2016 was the year of memes, celebrity deaths, Brexit, clowns and Trump. The feeling that took centre stage was ‘post-truth’ and was coined as word of the year by OED (Oxford English Dictionary), an interesting turn of events where our current society can no longer believe what we are reading, as media outlets care less about being correct and more about being first. Who cares if a story isn’t completely true, as long as it’s click bait?

Wikipedia has proved itself an exciting venture that promotes freedom of knowledge online. However, this informing comes with misinformation and nonsense, perhaps this is what has led us to the construction of our post-truth world? It is hard to know what’s what when you find yourself diving deeper than you ever intended or imagined in the sea of those blue links. One more click, one more fact, and on and on the circle turns.

Words by Maisie Florence Post