May 21, 2024   3:42pm

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Something new to blame on technology … Is the internet destroying your memory?

We already knew that Googling had taken all the fun out of friendly debates” why argue about the origins of the french fry when a quick trip to Wikipedia gives you the answer? But now we’re losing something else” our memory.

According to the Kurzweil article, “Google is destroying your memory,” the recent study by Columbia University’s Betsy Sparrow shows that, “…we forget things we are confident we can find on the Internet. We are more likely to remember things we think are not available online. And we are better able to remember where to find something on the Internet than we are at remembering the information itself.”

Relying on friends, coworkers, and family for  information is referred to as “transactive memory,” but with tools such as Google, Bing and Wikipedia at our disposal, our main source of externally stored memory seems to quickly be transitioning to the Internet.

Though it may seem a bit scary, there could be an upside.

Perhaps those who teach in any context, be they college professors, doctors or business leaders, will become increasingly focused on imparting greater understanding of ideas and ways of thinking, and less focused on memorization, said Sparrow. And perhaps those who learn will become less occupied with facts and more engaged in larger questions of understanding.

Spending less time memorizing random facts and statistics and more time understanding their significance may not be such a bad turn for mankind after all.

Whew! Certainly better than having to give up Google.


Kurzweil, “Google is destroying your memory,” Amara D. Angelica, July 15, 2011

The New York Times: Internet Use Affects Memory, Study Finds by Patricia Cohen, Patricia Cohen, July 14, 2011

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