A couple of years ago, I quite enjoyed reading ‘Moonwalking with Einstein’ by Joshua Foer. The book is about memory training and I particularly liked the chapter about the invention of books. Apparently, some people were livid because of the damaging effect this invention would have on peoples memory. They were right of course, people got worse at memorizing stories. But they díd get a lot better in processing more information. A book becomes a part of your brain, an external memory capacity that you can use..
Fast forward to this age, the age if the internet, where some people are livid because people don’t read books anymore and the damaging effect this has on peoples memory. They’re right of course. There’s even a bias for this: the Google effect.
According to Wikipedia it means: ‘The tendency to forget information that can be found readily online by using Internet search engines.’. I confess, I quite enjoy this bias. I like looking up definitions and explanations in the middle of an conversation. And a lot of my ‘IT guy’ experience is just based on my persistence to keep looking for a possible answer online.
But.. I’m also quite sad that because of the internet, so many people have stopped reading books. Because the internet improved my problem solving, but books improved my understanding of problems in the first place.
Books have their own time and space, in which it’s much easier to keep focus, map connections and really think about the meaning of the content. Maybe someday some IA technology will make it possible to have the same experience online but until then, I’ll keep on turning the pages.
Because books will extend your memory, the internet will just let you forget.