Watch this video featuring Betsy Sparrow, who co-authored a report on the effects search engines are having on our ability to retain information.
The advent of the Internet, with sophisticated algorithmic search engines, has made accessing information as easy as lifting a finger. No longer do we have to make costly efforts to find the things we want. We can “Google” the old classmate, find articles online, or look up the actor who was on the tip of our tongue. The results of four studies suggest that when faced with difficult questions, people are primed to think about computers and that when people expect to have future access to information, they have lower rates of recall of the information itself and enhanced recall instead for where to access it. The Internet has become a primary form of external or transactive memory, where information is stored collectively outside ourselves.
These studies suggest that people forget items they think will be available externally, and remember items they think will not be available.
Do you find this is true of your yourself?