Last night I was listening to one of the many teleseminars I download from the internet. Over the last year in particular they've become a source of learning for me. Providing me with a steady and rich vein of new knowledge and ideas.
Almost like a university of the ether. I sometimes wonder about the lives of all these people who from their generosity offer their take on events and ideas. With a computer, there's certainly no excuse these days to feel you don't have access to learning.
Of course like anything else you need to use some discrimination and appropriate caution. And of course there's the counter argument that this access can be used for evil as well as good.
But that was always the case regardless of the means of access. At the weekend I was catching up with some TV programmes on BBC Iplayer - one of which was about David Nash a sculptor of wood(well worth a look if you're interested in the artistic process, sculpture or wood).
More pertinent to my theme was a programme about the production of handwritten books and the move to print. The programme I watched featured the Luttrell Psalter, produced for a Lincolnshire noble and full of the most wonderful illustrations of hell fire and damnation, along with scenes of 14th century life.
As wonderful as it was, there's no dobt it was full of propaganda, the Church's and the nobility with everyone in their rightful place in the hierarchy and those at the bottom of the pile would be unlikely to have access to books like the Psalter. Contrast that with the second book they featured which was the first edition of Chaucer's Canterbury Pilgrims.
The sudden access for those who could read, to something in their own language must have seemed as strange as all this internet stuff to us when it began. And the impact must have been as great in terms of opening out new ways of thinking and behaving.
Thinking again about sharing of information, it's always seemed to me that the more generous we are, the more ripples we can have around us. I know how much I've benefited from mentors and friends who opened my eyes to new ways of thinking and ideas.
I think that's why I ended up as a librarian though at 13 when I first had the idea, I couldn't have put it into any kind of theory. It just seemed to me learning was the key to a wider world. It certainly worked for me.
So I'm grateful to all those with the generosity impulse and I hope that I can pay it forward in my small way.