Some-days, I wonder that I’m born half a millennia too late into this world given the extent of novel societal tendencies that I’m not fond of.
Although, the notion of Batman didn’t exist then, given a choice, I’d probably consider time traveling to an intellectually simpler life when much of what the present science and engineering entails was just beginning to be discovered and invented.
Research options then weren’t thresholded by who’s packing heavier compute but rather open to all that could observe patiently and portrayed the will to ask, sceptic-ize and act according to their whims.
On the shoulders of Giants…
In the earlier days of most subject, huge anchors of contributions originate from a series of fundamental minor observations, to now forking into numerous finer threads that tangibly realized in the growing amounts of research corpus these days.
The idea of conducting personal research and devising minor domains is continuously being limited to a select few over the decades as apprentices struggle to catch up with finer and finer bleeding edges of something that was so blunt and casually approachable a few hundred years ago.
Although this signifies a growth in complexity of abstractions that humanity has explored as a collective, it does seem to be a gloomy scenario for the curious observer bounded by his natural instruments of observation.
The chances of discovering even the remotest of abstractions independently are ruined by hyper-connected populations. The chances of chancing upon the same intellectual abstraction twice from different roots have dwindled down to none thanks to the power of the written word and lately, computer networks.
A Proposition - Cyber-Solitude
One possible panacea for this diverse set of intellectual deficiencies that’s forced upon dwellers of the current times, that I’ve been testing out is to deliberately distance myself from news and assume a particular thought hasn’t been thought of before even though there’s a high chance it has been, several times. It might even be recorded in some corners of the internet and be conveniently accessible due to LLMs slowly replacing search engines.
Moreover, not reading up the ends of a thread and only restricting yourself to foundational reads, forcing a rewarding climb up the trees of knowledge to the particular section of a canopy you were searching for is a preferable path for me than observing a snapshot of the same from a satellite zoom-in.
I’m not Bad-Mouthing Intellectual Interdependence …
… but there’s a pretty obvious and distinct line between riding a jet across continents and what the wright brothers did over the span of a green field.
While I can’t deny the usefulness of the former, I hope you are lucky enough to realize the joy of doing something similar to the latter.
Personally, I’ve found trying to come with non-optimal explanations of phenomena around me before looking up the tested and accurate versions to be a fulfilling habit that might just help me retain my sanity and feed my need for natural novelty than drown myself in readily available facts and factoids.
This isn’t a jab at collaborative science but a call to independently practice the solitary variant of the same. Both present a different sort of satisfaction that might just be the combination needed for a balanced intellectual diet.