Maintaining an inventory will always cost money. Millions of wealth is spent in optimizing supply chain and some have earned billions by cutting down warehouses or having zero inventory policies. New technologies, online presence, faster shipping has made people make more money by optimizing their supply chain. In my school days owning a knowledge bank like encylopedia, tell me why, how stuff works were considered to be prestigious. The advantage of large inventory of knowledge was very evident in General Knowledge exams and quiz competitions. School curriculum also relied on the application of knowledge especially in mathematics, physics and chemistry. All those days, I was relying largely on access to printed books with little or no exposure to computers. My dad’s workplace (manufacturing and engineering) also had a similar environment with little access to knowledge when immediately needed.
Technology for sure evolves at an exponential pace. In two decades internet and communication technologies has revolutionized data access such that a great amount of knowledge is available at finger tips. Does this make our process of learning and keeping ourselves up to date an expensive time consuming activity? If knowledge is available in a handheld device at any time, is it worth going through lengthy college courses for performing day to day technical jobs?
Knowledge is a basis for a thorough understanding of the fundamentals. A strong foundation of fundamentals is a prerequisite for great productivity. The more the understanding, the more is the creativity. The ability to deal with higher levels of abstraction also increases which in turn helps to deal better with our limited working memory (refer to Miller’s law). Access to knowledge/information is a boon to us to increase our ability to learn more, not just to help us remember less. Let us keep learning everyday.
Knowledge is more than the sum total of a set of information. For example, understanding the basics of computer architecture or design patterns cannot be done by a few “lookups” on Google. Google searches cannot replace books like Hennessey Patterson or the one on design patterns by the “Gang of four”. It takes patience, time & perseverance to get there.
But modern communication technologies can aid the process. I personally use tools like Wiki on a stick (http://stickwiki.sourceforge.net), delicious to maintain sets of datum that I can reference “quickly” later.