Is Google Changing The Way We Remember Things?
We’ve all been in a situation where we needed to remember a certain factoid about our town/city, our cars, a new concert or movie in town but for the life of us, we just can’t remember. So what do all of us do? We take out our smart phones or goto a computer and open up Google. We search for what we want, supply that information to our peers and promptly forget it again. So what exactly is happening here?
Researchers from Columbia University, in a study titled “Google Effects on Memory”, conducted a crucial experiment in which participants were asked to type in some trivia into the computer. Half the group was told that the data would be safe and stored in multiple folders, while the other half was told that the data would be erased. Surprisingly, the group that thought the data would be deleted had a better retention of the trivia they entered. Even more surprisingly, the other group did not remember the trivia as well as it remembered exactly where the trivia was stored. Does this resemble a Google keywordish effect to you?
The study has come to the conclusion that the Internet is acting like a collective Super Long Term Memory for the entire human race. In ancient times, people used to memorize entire histories and texts aided by mnemonic codes like rhymes and metre. Once printing was invented, mankind was liberated from having to perform such tasks. Now that we have the Internet, the effect is much larger. All we have to do is search for what we want and we find it. It seems that our brains are being reprogrammed to remember keywords or tags that would provide the information that we should have remembered in the first place, resembling search engines in their own right. Touché Google, touché.