By Layne Smith
Buckminster Fuller created the “Knowledge Doubling Curve”; he noticed that until 1900 human knowledge doubled approximately every century. By the end of World War II knowledge was doubling every 25 years. Today things are not as simple as different types of knowledge have different rates of growth. For example, nanotechnology knowledge is doubling every two years and clinical knowledge every 18 months. But on average human knowledge is doubling every 13 months. According to IBM, the build out of the “internet of things” will lead to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours.
Is the above true? I don’t know. If it’s on the internet it must be true, right? However, I do experience and know that the global knowledge base is expanding rapidly.
When I first started out in ministry and was working on my Sunday sermon, I often would call the public library and speak to the reference librarian if I needed some specific information to emphasize a homiletic point or improve an illustration. She—yes, the reference librarian inevitably was a “she”—would research the information that I needed and call me back. I felt that I was on the cutting edge by having such a massive amount of information so readily available! My, things have changed, haven’t they?
In such a rapidly expanding world, only nimble persons and organizations will survive and thrive. The inventions of writing and then printing played a critical role in the increase of the knowledge base. The launch and then proliferation of the World Wide Web along with Web 2 have shortened the time for doubling knowledge significantly. By the way—something I didn’t know until I started reading on the web—Web 2, a term coined by Darcy DiNucci in 1999, describes changes to the way web information can be added, discovered, and used by even non-experts. Now, even if we know little or nothing about the technology, we can have our own blog, post on Facebook, and add information to the ever-growing list of internet platforms.
What’s the point of all of this? I was on the first Coordinating Council when CBF was birthed. I think it was Cecil Sherman who, at one of those meetings, talked about the fact that we were “building the plane as we were flying it.”
As I have been a part of CBF life and watched the change and transformation over the past twenty-five years, I have been grateful for those who have been willing to lead us to change in ways that provide for a more effective and prophetic witness. CBF is much, much different than it was twenty-five years ago. Thanks be to God! Who knows what CBF will look like twenty-five years from now? I hope and pray that she will continue to have leadership willing to change in ways that keep her relevant and vital in a rapidly-evolving world.
Layne Smith is Interim Transitional Minister at McLean Baptist Church and CBF Peer Learning Group Regional Director for North Carolina, Virginia, and the Mid-Atlantic.