When you think you know but you don't

If you can't Google it now you won't ever!

With the internet at our finger tips, it is easy to access any sort of information instantly. Long gone are the days where you memorize all the important dates or names in history. With a few key strokes, Wikipedia presents you with more information than you care to know.

As programmers, we too have this luxury. I don't know majority of the parameters order in PHP functions. I let the computer do the thinking for me while I focus on solving the problem. After many years of programming, I find this feature to be very convenient. Even programmers getting started have access to this same information.

Because all this information is readily available, does experience even matter anymore? I'd like to say yes! And it matters in a more subtle way. There are multiple stages of learning and a popular summary is this one:

Because we only recently started relying entirely on the internet, there is a new step that was added to the list that I don't know where exactly where to place on the list. This knowledge stage makes people more dangerous than they think they are.

Thinking you know cause you can google it later

This stage causes more trouble than it solves. The night before the interview, I take a quick glance at interview questions, because the interviewer will find them on the internet of course. Obviously, I cannot master some programming ideologies in an evening, but knowing that I heard the terms before and I can google them later makes me skip them all together.

A terrible mistake of course, but one evening is just too short.

No one focuses in class anymore because whatever the teacher is saying right now, can be googled later. The only problem is we never google it. The sense of knowledge is chemically the same as the illusion of knowledge. The only difference is that you don't actually have the knowledge.

This knowledge stage is the reason there is no such thing as a project completed by the deadline. We think we know because we assume we will find the answer on the internet, but we either never get to finding the answer or we never revisit it in the first place.

The internet is like a library. Just because it stores all the worlds information, it doesn't mean you have all the world's information. If you don't know something, write it down or you will forget.


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