Monday, July 18, 2011

The Google Effect

There is a new saying around called "the Google Effect".  Coined by researchers, the "Google Effect" means that if you do not have the luxury of being easily able to access information at a later time, that you will have a better chance of remembering it when you first learn it.  With Google, and technology in general, many of us don't have much of an incentive to make a real effort to tie down the information that reaches our brains for a prolonged length of time.  If we forget any piece of information, we can just hit up Google. 

I remember that for awhile, I had trouble remembering our home phone number after we had it changed.  This wasn't really an issue, only when I called the pizza place to put in an order, and they'd ask for the home number, and I'd stammer or give out the old number.  My brother had to step in and give me the correct number.  When I initially got the new number, I just put it into my cell phone, and when I need to call home, I just hit a number on my phone and it automatically calls home.  But until not too long ago, if someone had asked me for my home phone number, my brain would not be able to access that information.  And if I did not have my cell phone, and was in a bad place, I might well have been in some kind of predicament. 

So, I think it's possible that The Google Effect can go well beyond not bothering to remember fairly trivial facts or data, but you can forget things as essential as your phone number.  If you're not exercising your brain and your memories regularly, the consequences can be unexpected.  I can easily imagine a day where people might need a GPS to just remember the rights and lefts of simple trips to the mall, for example.  

No comments: