Is Your Favorite Search Engine Your Add-On Memory?

Not long ago, I was talking to a few teachers at the local Starbucks and they had indicated to me that their requirements for rote memorization type teaching seemed to be having ill-effects, as students rejected these mandatory assignments. That didn’t surprise me because any 7th grader knows they can look up any fact anytime they want to on their smart phones, tablet, or laptop using Google. Okay so, let’s talk about this new “instant information age” and the positives and negatives of our Google Era, shall we?

The other day, I was listening to an older Science Journal – Online Magazine Podcast from July 15, 2011 titled; “The show includes the effects of Google on memory, the stressful lives of alpha male baboons, science in Egypt, and more,” and it was the Science Podcast of the day. In the podcast, first section, the scientific researchers explains how people are no longer attempting to memorize facts as much as categories of things, and where any particular piece of information might be.

She thinks that once you free your memory of endless facts, now you can think about how to best consider the implications of things and how those facts interact. She also discusses the reality of memorizing phone numbers, something no one does anymore due to the fact that all of the phone numbers are pre-programmed into your smart phone.

1. How Google Is Changing Your Brain – DM Wegner and AF Ward, 2013 Scientific America.
2. Searching for the Google Effect on People’s Memory – John Bohannon, Science, July 15, 2011.

Overall, the paper (2) above seems to indicate that this new use of the brain with the assistance of modern day internet search engines and personal tech devices is freeing the brain for other uses depending on the extra-curricular activities of its owner and their interests. Of course, there are still detractors of the “Google Era” as some might call it, for instance, an interesting book to read, one I am about 1/3 through is;

“Googled – The End of the World as We Know It,” by Ken Augletta, Penguin Press, New York, NY, 2009, 384 pages, ISBN: 978-1-59420-235-3.

In fact, the book even has a chapter titled; “The New Evil Empire 2004-2005” and complains of how Google is destroying the Old Media in another chapter and how Google competes against many of those companies listed in its search engine, albeit that criticism is somewhat ridiculous due to the fact that “every company” is listed in its search engine even MSN’s Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines. Yes, the (FTC Federal Trade Commission) did investigate this, come up with nothing more than a small fine and future stipulations even as the competitors complaining had maligned Google’s brand name.