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Google it?

Originally written/published by Dr. Will on Tue, Apr 17, 2012 @ 02:38 PM

I am no Luddite.

I am a technologist and have been nearly for my entire working career. Before that I was a science fiction devotee and a Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo program fanboy. I like technology. I make my living with technology. I depend on technology.


Houston, we have a problem.

How many times have you "googled" something instead of trying to remember it? Or, trying to remember something, quickly given up and typed into a search window?

I thought so. Me too.

And the more ubiquitous the search windows become, the more quickly we give up. I teach graduate classes from time to time. These days students sit in classrooms with laptops connected to the internet. I notice that when I say something unfamiliar to the students they often start typing ... searching for what I just said.

I am not clever enough to be deep or subtle. My references should be common knowledge - fundamental concepts of Western Civilization. I say "Cassandra" ... type-type-type ...

Using a dictionary or an encyclopaedia - whether online or off - to check facts and deepen knowledge about a topic is one thing. Being unable to recall a known thing in the first place - groping around in our darkened cranial attics searching for something that you once knew is another. Being unwilling to work at recalling - actually making the search before giving up - is yet a third.

Persistence of memory

If something is poorly learned at first then recall will be difficult. If memory has not been trained then recall is difficult and learning is nearly impossible. If the information was never really learned or our ability to recall never honed into a useful skill then we can't find information when we need it. And if we can't find it then we don't own it. And if we don't own it then we can't - or won't - ever be able to use it.

Public speaking or debate - the ability to persuade people - hinges on intellectual agility. The capability to "connect the dots". That cannot be done if you have no dots to connect.

Next time. Before you google it. Try to remember it. Think. Recall. Check it if you are unsure, but make the attempt at recalling it before typing it in and waiting passively for the result.

Or. Google "memory improvement" and see where it takes you ...