09 Sep

So you think you’re in control?

‘The Google Effect’

Also known as ‘digital amnesia’, this is the tendency to forget information that can be easily found on the internet or via some other digital medium.

How much do we depend on other systems to remember important information for us? What is our back-up for when these systems fail? Can you remember those important numbers you save on speed-dial ready for the moment that your mobile phone finally packs up or runs out of power, and you have to borrow someone else’s?

While rote learning (or ‘learning off by heart’) today seems rather outdated, the lasting memories gained from it still serve as a hook from which we can regain lost knowledge or explore the unknown. I learned languages at university in the 1980s, before the advent of Google Translate: I can confidently say that I can ‘speak’ them (albeit not as fluently these days) because I remember and understand the grammar and syntax that I learned from conjugating and declining and committing them to memory. When I do utter a phrase or two, it comes from me, from my memory, and not an external device. And that helps me feel proud and confident.