Is the Internet Your Source of Knowledge?

I’m constantly suprised by people’s misperceptions of the internet in Pakistan. The older generation seems to view it as something incomprehensible, and at the most good for emailing and/or wasting time. The younger generation seems to think that the internet consists solely of chat and Hotmail. I have never come across a teenager using a pc who wasn’t either on MSN Messenger or Hotmail, or both. While this is a very informal/personal/biased survey, in the last 6 years I must have come across at least a thousand teens using the internet, and all of them so far have been emailing/chatting or playing some game or the other. It’s sad, when arguably the sum of all human knowledge resides at our collective fingertips, and so many don’t even give it a passing glance. The key is to be learned enough to separate the wheat from the chaff, which is becoming increasingly difficult. I had written about “organizing data”: earlier, but before doing that, the data to be organized has to be winnowed.

In the third world, where libraries hardly exist and public schools teach junk, the Internet is a godsend. Let me rephrase that. Proper usage of the Internet is a godsend. Every school should be teaching how to research using libraries and the Internet, to organize and sort, and most important, to evaulate and process all this into something original using the student’s own thoughts. The Pak Govt. has been promoting software parks, call centers, and other white elephants, but when it comes to putting money where their mouth is they fall short. That might be a bit harsh, as they have set up the “Virtual University of Pakistan”:, but that is not going to help the masses. By the time people get out from public schools (the few who _can_ go) most will have received such a bad education (_if any_) that they no longer think creatively. See Jang newspaper article: “Policies on education need dramatic changes to improve standards, says educationist”:

A hunderd years from now, Google will have reached the “Star Trek future”:;sz=336×280;ord=1065295351: you talk into the air and the computer processes your question, figures out its context, figures out what response you’re looking for, searches a giant database in who-knows-how-many languages, translates/analyses/summarises all the results, and presents them back to you in a pleasant voice. For the present we have to make do with what we have, yet even now being able to use the Internet properly is like learning to read once more. Suddenly your horizons open up to a limitless world of knowledge, people, opinions, and the most important of all, the ability to connect with people from all over the world.

bq.. How much do you rely on the Internet for information? Since getting online 7 or 8 years ago, I have gradually abandoned almost all other sources of news and information, to the point where they’ve pretty much disappeared from my life.

>> “Slashdot”:

p. The above question should read: How much has using the Internet expanded your information horizon? With books, tv and magazines, you remain limited to what you have available, and it takes a lot longer to quickly look up new areas. Using the Internet, anything and everything I want to find out about in more detail then I’d ever want to is readily there in a few seconds.

9 thoughts on “Is the Internet Your Source of Knowledge?”

  1. I agree, the ministries of IT and Education should do something to teach students about how they can use internet more effeciently. I am a student at Virtual university. While talking to some other students I realized that none of them uses internet as a source of information. Even when they all know that it is all there available for free.

  2. I am not much surprised to hear — or Danial on such a surprising situation of Internet Usage in Pakistan. I am, however, more surprised to see over ambitious hype by our worthy government. Now they want to build up a digital library for educational universities LOL.

    Having been president of my college library, whose inventory of books would count more than 60k almost, and then coming into this part of HCI, I can sense what that would translate to the new workload this scenario poses on government.

    Now for these kids, Information alone can not be over hyped or whatever to suit one’s self interests. You need infrastructure, I mean technology, to make this dirty phrase – Information Technology, work properly.

    Now if this country invested around 5$million on Heera Mandi and likes, the results could be far encouraging. Not because its a vicious act and I like to support such an entertainment (or whatever you like to call this brothel business), but that the Information (the prostitutes, semi-prostitutes, their DALLALs, their fans and so on) and Infrastructure (means and resources how to get such a feast in one’s life, if you have few bucks) exist.

    However, I would like to talk on this in detail and with more sensibilty if — could get some more people coz its again making me feel a haunted place.

  3. A number of American universites have large digital libraries available to their students. Instead of reinventing the wheel, it’d be better for Pakistan to collobrate with a few of these unis. These resources are extremely usefull.

    Ejaz, I think the people who use Heera Mandi already have their information resources available!

  4. i have to agree with u here. i dont think ppl here really understand the potential of the internet. there is so much i have been able to do besides chatting. it has been easier for me to find a treasure trove of information. it used to hard to find information on the net earlier but with Questia and Elibrary i can find anything.

    i guess its good to see that there are people who can utilise the full potential of the net. too bad we dont have broadband.

  5. Questia and Elibrary are great, but I wish there were some similar services available freely. This is where you need a internationally funded global organization funded by the World Bank and the UN which provide such a service. It would be a pittance to fund, and would make a huge difference for millions of people.

  6. Very nice topic indeed. The govt’s role needs to be reinvented altogather in pakistan. I have been working in the IT Board for some time and during that time, I realized how far away from reality we are in our curriculum. The IT Board fought for a whole week with the minister for education at that time, Zubaida Jalal to include Microsoft Office and some contemporary and useful knowledge in the curriculum for Intermediate in Computer studies, while she was adamant that we stick to the old “fortran” and the like.

    It would be interesting to note here that all her children are studying abroad; getting the latest knowledge. Some things dont change in pakistan I guess.

  7. MS Office is something which should definitly *not* be taught in any school. How many Pakistani kids can afford to buy Windows and MS Office? By teaching these things in school all the govt. is doing is encouraging these kids to pirate that software. They need to be teaching open source alternatives like ‘Open Office’: Why encourage the use of such expensive software when free alternatives are available?

    On top of it all, teaching kids how to use MS Office or OpenOffice is not really learning – they should be taught as to what a computer is instead.

  8. The project of virtual university is good because its handle Mr NAVEDD MALIK but

    two or three person are sincere with NAVEED MALIK and the other is so bad

    not a good person no handle to the student.He hearted the student.And also disheart the student .HE doesen`t handle the university Any one person met me so i could tell you the situation of virtual university .And close this project.

  9. well in my opinion somewht Internet is good like for communication,having news on net..etc etc..but the people in whole world r using internet in a wrong way,like putting some other pics in to other ..thats is wrong hope u understand….using internet it doesnt mean using it in awrong way …..using internet means it gives relax when we chat our relatives,it gives good knowledge like knowing everything abt the movies ,news,…thats it ..its a good source in this way.

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