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Are Search Engines Replacing Your Memory?
Monday, October 15, 2007
The other day I was reading a fantastic article in Wired magazine entitled "Your Outbound Brain Knows All". The article, written by Clive Thompson, describes how according to recent research we are remembering fewer and fewer facts in this day and age. With the innovation of technologies and search engines, we really don't need to memorize as much as we once did. We can simply "Google" the subject at hand or go to ASK.com, or Yahoo and perform a query to find the answer.

I agree with the statement by Thompson where he says "...the line between where my memory leaves off and Google picks up is getting blurrier by the second." But isn't that why we love and use search engines so much? Or are we just becoming lazy? The fact that we have "outsourced important peripheral brain functions" to the search engines is a sign of the times. Think about it, can you remember all of your friend's phone numbers or are they simply stored on your cell phone? Can you recall your father's birthday? Do you remember your LinkedIn login and password? The fact is we don't tap into out memory as we once did. We simply use technology or a search engines to remember things for us. Sure we still files facts and figures in our memory banks but it is nowhere near where it used to be.

Search engines are convenient. We use them to find movie titles, song information, food recipes, important dates, and yes maybe even friends phone numbers. Technology has changed the way we process information and has changed how we communicate. For me I prefer email to a phone conversation. For others they would be lost without their cell phone or blackberry. Sheesh, how did we ever survive without this technology?

Are we simply freeing our memory so that we can focus on other activities, or are we just relying on technological innovations? There is something to be said for someone who can remember obscure facts, or words to every Van Halen song, or scenes from every movie they have ever seen. Yet I would just as well use a search engine to do this for me.

I can take solace in the fact that at least I can remember my mom's birthday and my own phone number.
posted by Jody @ 9:10 PM  
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