I post this here, instead of elsewhere, because recently, more than a piece of engineering the internet has turned into a form of “interaction design”.
My question is, has the internet destroyed our need to retain information?
Since pre-historic times all the way up to the modern era, people have told stories and written books to retain information. However, this information was not easy to access, and therefore people would retain more information knowing they were not able to access it.
Think back to the 16-1800’s, and how accessible information was then.
However, now, with the internet, I commonly find myself not being able to fully remember details from something and instead going to the internet to search for the answer.
So, quite simply, is the internet making us dumber? Is all our knowledge outside our personal memories going to be stored electronically for easy access? Is this a good or bad thing?
There are still many people, like myself, that remember all kinds of facts, figures, names and dates. I remember joking with a friend of mine in 1999 that we should wear Osama bin Laden masks in downtown Tampa after they installed some security cameras. It was only a couple years after 9/11 that he told me he had had no idea who Osama bin Laden was until 9/11.
Maybe this is a generational thing. I’m only 18, so I’m probably speaking from a drastically different perspective than others. I had a computer at the age of 4. To put it simply, I knew how to type before I knew how to write.
I essentially grew up with the internet, as did a lot of my generation. So, maybe this is simply a movement towards this trait, but I honestly can’t speak in absolutes using only myself as a sample.
I think some people are prone to retain information just as others are better at re-assembling the information in ways to provide something new. This is not generational.
Instead, if I could say one thing about the Internet generation, it’s that the information flow is so huge that most of them don’t seem to have time to study history. They are not fully informed about the errors of any previous generation.
Ensen: I tend to agree with the idea that people don’t study anything in depth. I don’t think this is new, just a change in the information flow as you state. Before, I think people that wanted to study something got a couple books and read about it in depth. Today, it’s just easier to read a short article on wikipedia. Maybe it isn’t such a bad thing…
You know AcidMonkey, libraries were new at one point too… or at least, like you said, very in-accessible. There was probably a big change in people who were exposed to all the available information at first… they had more information available than they could ever digest, and had to use some kinds of tricks to sort through it all. With that, I would bet a decline in some other trait people had before having access to books… like a troubadours memory of historical stories, etc. (or like thoose kids in MadMax Thunderdome that remembered things with their “tells” …)
Im always amazed at one friend who is very dislexic and gets all his knowledge of the world through the people around him. He really can’t read at all, but he’s amazingly charming and full of worldly information that he learned from spending his life talking with people to learn. Compare that kind of guy to a homebody who learns everything from his computer and you have a pretty striking contrast