Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Changing Memory

The internet is changing us:
A more telling experiment provided a stream of facts to participants, with half told to file them away in a number of "folders" on a computer, and half told that the facts would be erased.

When asked to remember the facts, those who knew the information would not be available later performed significantly better than those who filed the information away.

But those who expected the information would be available were remarkably good at remembering in which folder they had stored the information.

"This suggests that for the things we can find online, we tend keep it online as far as memory is concerned - we keep it externally stored," Dr Sparrow said.
So what? I think in the end it makes us better. Rather than remembering things, we merely have to remember where we put them, thus freeing up our minds to remember more. As the article points out:
I don't think Google is making us stupid - we're just changing the way that we're remembering things... If you can find stuff online even while you're walking down the street these days, then the skill to have, the thing to remember, is where to go to find the information. It's just like it would be with people - the skill to have is to remember who to go see about [particular topics]."
Now I just need to figure out how to remember those things I forgot, but don't remember that I forgot them. There are things we know, things we don't know, and things we don't know that we don't know.

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