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Monday, October 8, 2007

Education vs. Information

The differences between Information and Education are at the heart of Tobacconist University values and our vision/mission.
Distinguishing between the two can be the difference between just living and a life well-lived.
Information is typically what you get when you watch the evening news and hear sensational sound bites about Britney Spears, obese Americans, or when you hear politicians spinning their language about S-CHIP, anti-smoking statistics, and a myriad of other things. Information is data, often sensationalized for our limited attention spans. And it is indisputable that we live in the Age of Information. Between the internet, cell phones, tv, print and broadcast media, we are always being bombarded with information. Information is the nutritional equivalent of a twinkie; it may taste good but there is relatively little substance or value in it.
Information is about Quantity, while Education is about Quality.
Education is Information put into context with a perspective grounded in values and principles: and that is what Tobacconist University is about.
This topic is resonating with me right now because we are making a big push to enhance our already unparalleled glossary and turn it into a multi-media encyclopedia. We have endeavoured to find every tobacco glossary (in the English language) and make sure we don’t miss a thing. In that process, we have discovered an overwhelming amount of Information, opinion, and/or subjective interpretation. When we find words worthy of the TU glossary, we go through our library of books, cross-reference (3x), call experts, and then re-create the most valuable definition possible: after all, we are trying to create a timeless educational curriculum.

But, I am astounded at the amount of crap/information in the marketplace. There is very little content created with a long-term vision and an eye towards Quality. Much like the world we live in, Quantity often trumps Quality, so people don’t even attempt to create accurate and compelling content. Fortunately, you can rest assured that TU will never take this easy way out. Sadly, this trend carries through most of the Information we find on the internet. Even emails/newsletters I receive through the industry are full of erroneous or absurd information. I get a handful of so-called “expert” emails on a regular basis and they are always filled with incorrect information. Many of these so-called “experts” (I will call them “Fakeperts“) are merely pontificators trying to position themselves as thought-leaders in an effort to sell you products: that is one of the reasons TU does not sell any products or advertisements. And ultimately, these Fakeperts are doing harm to our industry and consumers while they try to make a quick buck.
Education requires research, perspective, and context. Consequently, Education requires vision, commitment, and integrity. These are the values that will help “Preserve Luxury Tobacco for Generations to Come”. Since we are an open-source Academic Curriculum, we encourage credible Tobacconists to contribute their knowledge to our institution. In that process we can help aggregate, promote, and strengthen the foundation upon which this industry is built: which is great Tobacconists! Without great, credible, and professional Tobacconists, our precious industry will die.
So, Educate yourselves!!! And help us Educate!!!

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