Saturday, October 30, 2004

The End of Memory

Why bother to remember anything when you can just Google it?

I suspect that many people would love it if they no longer had to remember even the important facts, numbers and dates in their lives. As search technology continues to improve, that no longer seems like an outlandish idea. But it is an idea with wide-ranging implications.

In a post-memory world, the ability to retain and retrieve information -- a common standard (however flawed) for gauging intelligence -- would be far less important a life skill than being able to describe the information you seek so your search engine could find it for you. Even the ability to navigate abstract information spaces, a key skill during the Internet's early days, would fall by the wayside if the search engines get good enough.

More profoundly, using software as a substitute for human memory leads us toward a symbiotic relationship with technology that borders on scary dependence. Composing good search-engine queries becomes a critical skill for daily living. How long, I wonder, before elementary schools start teaching kids how to formulate good search-engine queries in elementary school?
via Buzzworthy

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