"And now, since you are the father of writing, your affection for it has made you describe its effects as the opposite of what they really are. In fact, it will introduce forgetfulness into the soul of those who learn it: they will not practice using their memory because they will put their trust in writing, which is external and depends on signs that belong to others, instead of trying to remember from the inside, completely on their own."
And a lot of people without souls, such as myself.
If we suddenly lose the internet, say by a solar or asteroid thing, we have bigger problems to worry about...although tips of making shelter and fire could come in handy ;).
But I almost agree with you, I am afraid that this dependence on Search Engines will translate into less research and eventual advancement.
For some things relying on memory is not the best way. To exaggerate the point, pilots have procedures written down to follow, a check list. They deliberately do not rely on memory. When I was doing things like upgrading server OSs I always looked for the latest check-list and procedures. I could usually remember the steps, but I didn't want to rely on that in case something crucial had changed or something new added.
Another thing that springs to mind is that courts don't accept memory as perfect or reliable.
Personally I do everything possible not to rely on memory, as I consider my self to have a poor memory, and google helps massively with that. And yes, I considered my memory poor way before google existed.
Sounds like sci-fi? So did the idea of having all the information available on the tip of your hands 30 years ago.
Because from memorized knowledge comes inspiration. If you are thinking about something, and actually know many things you can put all those things together subconsciously and have a flash of insight.
Without all that memorized knowledge you have to laboriously look everything up and you may never make the connections.
Which is a problem when I need to learn things that can't just be looked up online when you need them, like a new language. When I try to learn new vocabulary or something my brain just refuses to leave its default lazy "aww, just look it up on Google" mode. It's annoying.
No kidding. The sources are not good-quality sources by Wikipedia standards
for the kind of assertions found in the article. This needs a lot more work in reading reliable secondary sources to be worth discussing here. In general, Wikipedia articles as articles to be submitted for discussion in Hacker News are usually not a good first choice of a submission source--I write this as a Wikipedian.
AFTER EDIT: From another top-level comment in this thread, I see the "quotation"
"Never memorize what you can look up in books." -- Albert Einstein
Are you sure that Albert Einstein really said that? The memory of his life is plagued by falsely attributed "quotations" of sayings Einstein never said. The particular "quotation" you mention is listed as unverified on Wikiquote.
With the preponderance of meatspace-spatial terms used for electronic services ("room", "space", "site", "zone", "stream", "page", "locker", "file", etc.) doesn't it follow that spatial reasoning will begin to function on nonspatial environs, based upon mental conceptions?
On an interesting and related tangent I recently saw a presentation in Jarkta, Indonesia by an Arizona-based academic who analyzed the twitter words used around recent conflicts and determined a heavy spatial semantic bent:
The argument IIRC was that the general population of twitter are responding to oppression against high-level cognitive concepts such as human rights with spatially reasoned dialogue: '"The Cloud and the Ground: Political Activism in the Digital Media Age"' @ International Conference on Communication, University of Indonesia, Depok, Indonesia, 6-7 December 2012. http://merlyna.org/appearances/
Unfortunately it's not available online. Oh, the irony!
PS. After the conference I hassled the keynote speakers about the lack of a program incorporating Wikileaks and government surveillance. Furthermore, Participants needed to register with the university in order to access censored internet. Later, Creative Commons Indonesia threw a party within the US-run '@America' facility (designed to manipulate the perception of America by Indonesian muslim youth - source: NYT), a disgusting venue given that they are currently pushing TPP. I did complain to Creative Commons' ethics board.
What it means: our brains should be used to process and derive from raw data and not hold the raw data, as well as the pointers to the certain not important ( read: life esentials) processes or data.
Once you learn how to find ( in a library, or google, or whatever ), you can offload your brain with remembering stuff that you know how to reach it in a matter of seconds ( or any other useful time unit ).
On the other hand, own survival insticts will help us learn and remember without any books what to do in certain dangerous or life-threatening situations. This doesn't exclude that you may die from stupidity :).
This is nothing new, and the purposless of learning a poem while in school seems to me now even greater. At the oposite, stays my techical university where all the exams were open to documentation on table, and encouraged to use them while in exams. I guess, for me, searching in google is a natural extension to this.
They are also built on top of technology that we are already familiar with. For example, QWERTY keyboards because typewriters used QWERTY.
A technology that humans can't understand, perhaps because it's not yet time, will struggle to gain any real traction outside a select few.
Am I better or worse off from it? I'd almost assuredly argue better off, as quick access to virtually any information is one of the biggest highlights of our time.
Bringing it back on topic, I was just thinking the other day how I've been using git for the last two years straight, and still have to google Every.Single.Time when I have to do a command I don't often do, like unstaging a deleted file. And it's usually the same link to a StackOverflow post that my eye instantly zooms to because it's purple.
I was interviewing people with a view that they didn't just rely on Google, but if they did need to use the google effect they could find answers very quickly. if the Internet wasn't available they could use whatever other resources to find the answer.
I feel kind of bad about this as I introspect, I'm sure this reliance on third parties has a detrimental effect on my ability to remember information that I could compose to build new knowledge or apply to new situations.
I'm so rarely optimistic about things, I feel my initial optimism in this regard means I must be right... apparently I'm being optimistic about that too! ;)
My memory finally "improved" when I discovered that phone numbers need not be numbers but a pattern on a key pad. I couldn't, and still can't, remember much unless there are logical patterns and derivations. The year 1806 is random integers attached to an event.
Pattern-matching and derived memorization is looked down upon as something inferior to rote or "photographic" memory. I think this is sad state of affairs: regurgitating how-to doesn't help anyone understand anything. Being able to derive concepts and ideas offers a deep understanding and visualization of the world that no one trained into rote memory can ever attain. So, I consider the fact that I had to redefine "memory" in a way my brain can understand it a blessing, not a curse.
How about the spellcheckers? Can we even spell correctly after all these years without them?