Google is Doing More than Providing Answers

Copeland, journalist for Write Read Web, investigates whether or not Google is beneficial or harmful to the human mind.

Dave Copeland, writer for “Read Write Web”, recently  posted an intriguing article about the relationship between memory and the Internet. In essence, he says that Google is shaping our memory, subconsciously training us to think about computers when faced with a difficult question.

In the past decade, we have retrained our minds to google just about everything we want to know, according to new research by Betsy Sparrow, Jenny Liu and Daniel M. Wegner. “The Internet has become a primary form of external or transactive memory, where information is stored collectively outside ourselves,” the researchers, who are based at Columbia University, University of Wisconsin, and Harvard respectively, write in the July issue of Science.

He continues in his article to say that humans have innately associated computers with answers. In doing so, we lose the ability to distinguish what is important to remember and what is not, therefore not remembering much at all. In the back of modern man’s mind is the fact that he can always Google what he would like to know.

The researchers set out to determine what impact, if any, access to information via Internet search engines has on memory. Their conclusion: When posed a question, people are primed to think of computers, and when they expect to have access to future information, they have lower rates of recall about the actual information and enhanced recall of where they can find the information. For example, you’re not likely to remember the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon chain of associations that leads from the actor to Marlon Brando, but you will remember that you can easily figure it out by going to IMDB.

To read Copeland’s full article on the web’s effect on the mind, visit Read Write Web.

Published July 30, 2012