Recently I have done a few post about our reliance upon accessibility, in that we desire and have more resources at our finger tips than ever, and thus in accessibility of information is more important than actually knowing the information at hand. As a result accessibility largely impacts the role of education as learning cold hard facts becomes less important.
In the post about education I gave a number of examples about how education played a cultural role in societies, often involving memorization of information, even as part of carrying a cultural and social legacy.
Yet, with excessive information at hand, it seems like information in itself has become less powerful. It's economics, as the available information increases, so does it's intrinsic values.
So how do you get people to change their attitudes, habits, and actions?
No longer is information the primary tool, instead it becomes inspiration.
In 2004, a popular documentary came out called Super Size Me, in which film maker Morgan Spurlock ate nothing except McDonald's for each meals for 30 days. This film was inspirational. Not in the chicken soup for soul way, but in a way that made people reconsider their eating choices, particularly fast food. I knew many people who after seeing this film forsaked fast food, with various levels of commitment.
Did Morgan Spurlock really provide very much information in the film? No, instead he used creativity and an eye-catching experiment to catch people off guard, cause them to make commitments and curb their behavior. The news that fast food was not healthy, certainly wasn't new information, but the presentation effected the lives of others.
In contrast, I would contend that the popular-in-Hollywood film by Davis Guggeheim, An Inconvenient Truth, did not inspire or change habits nearly as much as Super Size Me did.
In An Inconvenient Truth, I personally was bored by the highly informative power point presentation that Al Gore helped commit to film. While I don't stand to counter the concepts in the film, the presentation was based on information transfer rather than emotion transfer. Granted Gore presents dire realities for mankind, even as great as another ice age, but you have to wonder if the film was of Al Gore trying to survive an ice age for 30 days if the film would have ignited the green in more viewers?
If the goal is to move a group of people from point A to point B, in an age of accessibility and information overload, inspiration will trump information almost every time.
The application is clear. We'd rather be inspired to be healthy the learn the in's and out's of healthy living. We'd rather be inspired to use this or that parenting method, rather than read psychological studies conducted from ivy league universities. Our actions will change if we are inspired more than if we are informed.
Whether we are inspired to eat organic foods, pray more, protect the environment, commit to save more money, achieve higher levels of education, or donate money to fight off AIDS in Africa it's not the information the will effect our behavior it will be how the inspiration is delivered.