Personal Honours Project - Communities, Constructionism and Curiosity (2)

Another book I came across during my research was called Curious - The Desire To Know And Why Your Future Depends On It by Ian Leslie. One of my class mates sent me a link to an article written by Leslie for Wired magazine and this in turn led me to pick up a copy of his book. 

In the article Don't Let Curiosity Be Killed By Cats, Leslie explores the idea of curiosity which Aristotle called "the desire to know". He argues that with the rise of the internet and the creation of Google and Wikipedia, people have become less interest in their ignorance and are becoming incurious as a result. In his book, Leslie says that if a person become incurious, they will find less satisfaction with life and they are not indulging their "fourth drive" (the first three drives being food, sex and shelter). 

Leslie argues that while possibly one the greatest inventions for sharing knowledge, Google and Wikipedia are far too efficient and when we get an immediate answer to a question, the question disappears and we also lose the desire to learn more about the question as a result. Immediate answers also stop ideas from developing and deepening and we do not form our own opinions on these ideas as a result.

Amit Singhal, Google's head of search also makes a good point - "The more accurate the machine gets, the lazier the questions become". However, this is not to say that the internet and the digital age is making us any less curious and Leslie says that "nobody can take curiosity from you". He also writes:

"...therefore the new challenge is to find ways of making more people hungry to learn, question and create"

The internet should be giving epistemic curioisty - "the quest for knowledge and understanding and the pursuit of new questions." - another boost as it is making knowledge much more widely available than ever before. However this has not been the case and instead we have entered a period of stagnation where breakthroughs (scientific, etc.) are not happening as fast as they were during eras such as the Renaissance, where curiosity was more encouraged.  

This is why Leslie argues that we need more online spaces that encourage and cultivate the art of asking. Quora for example is a good example of an online space that encourages asking questions. It is a question-and-answer website where questions are asked, answered, edited and organised by its community. 

If you ask the right questions, you'll receive the answers that will not only satisfying your curiosity desire but also deepen your knowledge about the subject, and allow you to form your own opinions and experience about it. Kevin Kelly of US Wired says:

"When answers become cheap, good questions become more difficult and more valuable."

I was beginning to see links between my 3 C's as I had began to call them - encouraging curiosity would make people want to go and explore topics and by providing a platform where they can speak to people who also have this desire to learn more would result in the creation of a learning community. All communities have in common is an overall goal they are looking to achieve and drawing on the ideas from constructionism, this goal can be achieved by participating in activities such as discussions to achieve this goal - in this case, learning about a new topic. As Leslie also said, we need more online spaces which is why I think a mobile app would be a good decision to create this new space.

Temporary communities are still an interest of mine however, and I think it would be interesting to put a form of pressure on these communities to make people try and solve their overall goal within a time limit (perhaps 24 hours). This would encourage people to participate and take part in discussion about the topic and further their knowledge. However, it would still be interesting to see what happens and how a community would form if they had no overall goal and would be something I would also consider when further refining my concept.