My name is Zachary Cohn, and I've met a lot of people from the Internet. Most recently I met my doppelganger, Zachary Cohen.
[caption id="attachment_133" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="The Internet is a Series of Tubes"][/caption]Meeting people from the Internet is not a big deal to me anymore, although other people still freak out when I mention it. There have been three primary circles I've met people from: Massassi, Parkour, and The Rest of the Internet. The first two really helped me be comfortable with the last one.
Massassi.net started in 1997 and was dedicated to editing and modding a Star Wars game called Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight. The game is now 14 years old, and except for the occasional game for “old times sake” no one has played in five years. But everyone was such good friends and the community was so tight that most people have stayed around. I found Massassi in 2001, and have checked it daily since.
The first person I met from the Internet was through Massassi, and was probably Gebhoq. I found out he lived about 20 minutes away, so we saw a play and grabbed lunch together. After that, I visited Rochester Institute of Technology, where I was going to go to school. There were six people from Massassi that, by chance, all ended up there, so we met up and they showed me around. I've met a bunch more people from Massassi, but I had talked daily with most of them for years, so it was more like reuniting with a long-time friend.
The next circle of internet meetings is through Parkour. When I first started training, there was no one experienced in my area. I saw on some local parkour forums that a bunch of people meeting up to train in Washington DC, so I drove down to meet them. I showed up in this park to find a dozen teenage boys, mostly shirtless, jumping, climbing, and flipping around. I was a bit nervous at first - I didn't even know most of their handles, let alone names or anything about them. Five minutes after introducing myself, I felt we'd known each other for years. Since that first parkour jam, I've been great friends with Leonn, Psychosis, Doc_Ahk, Kipup, and RPG.[caption id="attachment_135" align="alignright" width="150" caption="David Belle - Parkour"][/caption]
If I've learned anything, it's that it doesn't really matter how much I know, but more importantly, what matters is how good I am at finding information.
Obviously there's value in knowing things - nobody's arguing that. Having a lively debate about global warming would be difficult if everyone had to look things up to form a position.
But I would say that the world is evolving in such a way that the amount of information being thrown at us is already vastly more than we can catalogue in our minds, and furthermore, that trend is only going to increase exponentially.
We shouldn't be teaching our kids how to memorize information and cram as much as possible into their brains. Instead, we need to be showing them how to be resourceful and find the answers they need amidst the increasing information & knowledge clutter in this world. Call it a "Googling" class (and I'm sure Google would jump at the chance to sponsor it). But you'll notice that many of my musings center around ways to efficiently gather, analyze, and disseminate data, and that's what I do best. I can get a working knowledge of just about any subject in 1 hour's time simply by looking it up on the Internet. That's why I say that Google is my imaginary friend. Just imagine having a resource next to you that had the answers to just about anything known to the human race. Well you do, and it's as close as the nearest computer. So the next time you don't know how to do something, or you're not sure where to begin, remember that most likely, not only has someone already been in your situation, but they've probably written a web page about the situation and what they did to resolve it.
What I mean in a very pragmatic, practical sense is, don't let ignorance or the fear of not knowing the answer to something keep you from acting on it (see my related posts on fear and triggers). Instead, take action! Look it up on Google. If you think the problem is to complex for a Google search, look pieces of the problem up to help you get an idea of the whole. Whenever someone asks me something, I usually want to ask them if they've checked Google first (and I usually refrain from seeming rude, but the thought crosses my mind!). Google is your friend. Learn it. Use it. Love it. You are superman, with a world's resources at your fingertips, so go take advantage of it.