I was reading this interview with Clive Thompson in the NY Times last night and he’s got a new book out called “Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better.” The book touches upon the idea that technology isn’t making you dumb, it’s actually supplementing the way our brains already work.
You talk a lot about memory in your book. Are we augmenting our memories with computers, or are we replacing them?
I would say we are augmenting them. When I started the book I was genuinely worried that I was losing my memory to Google, but the more I studied the way that everyday memory works, the more I realized how much we already rely on other outside sources — books, Post-it notes, etc. — but also other people to remember things. We are social thinkers, and we are also social rememberers, we use our co-workers, our partners and our friends to help us retrieve the details about things that they they are better at remembering than we are. And they’ve used us in the same way. Memory has always been social. Now we’re using search engines and computers to augment our memories, too.
The interview was good enough to get me to purchase the book, really looking forward to reading this. And how great is that cover? Simple but effective.