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Old 07-02-2008, 01:12 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Expense of Knowledge

I was wondering what everyone's thoughts are on the expense of knowledge.

Obviously, going to your local library is free (or close to it at lease in some locations) but books tend to be older, and in scientific fields, this can hinder or slow your knowledge gain. College is, obviously, not cheap and very time consuming... not always in the best way. Television channels like The History Channel, The Science Channel and The Discovery Channel are great, but if you want to purchase DVDs of the shows to watch later, they are ridiculously pricey.

Certainly the internet is full of great knowledge, but it's also full of misleading knowledge, and sometimes weeding out the bad information from the good is too time consuming to be beneficial.

What do you do when you want to learn something new? How do you go about picking your tools?
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Old 07-02-2008, 01:38 PM   #2 (permalink)
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If I want to learn something new that is technical or in a specific science, I will look to a college for classes (expensive, if it's not community college) or ask people in the field for suggestions regarding good books, online programs, interactive learning software, etc.

For "current events" type learning, I stick with NPR and the internet. Literature? Hit up a library or a thrift store for books. History? Same deal. Archaeology? Talk to people in the field, read journal articles, etc.

The best way to stay informed regarding a specific scientific field is to subscribe to the major journals in that field, which can be expensive unless you can find library access to them somewhere (usually through a university). You'll stay on the cutting edge of research in the field, as well as get a good overall picture of what has been done over the last few decades. If you have a specific topic (perhaps mentioned in a journal article) you want to learn more about, go to the references mentioned in the article through a library - you're bound to find some older books in the bibliography that will give you a good overall picture of what they're doing.
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Old 07-02-2008, 01:40 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I read a lot of wikipedia. Not for the articles (unless i'm really unfamiliar) but for the external references and citations.
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Old 07-02-2008, 01:47 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I do use the library--both the university library and the public library. Our library in town is not one of those old, dusty, musty affairs; they have a lot of new books. Every week they get in new stuff, and on all topics, plus they have subscriptions to every magazine imaginable. The university library provides me with access to various journals and newspapers from around the world. My university offers access to community members; all you have to do is ask at the circulation desk about getting a community member card.

Generally, I just read a lot. I read three newspapers a day via the Internet--the local paper, the statewide paper, and the New York Times. I read magazines, all kinds, whatever I can get my hands on. I read books, especially historical novels. Sometimes I get on Wikipedia and read and read and read, just clicking on link after link. I can literally get lost on Wikipedia for hours. I always double check the quality of the article I'm reading, though.

As for television shows--I usually use them as a jumping off point for more reading!
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