A recent poll found that younger people are not able to recall personal details as well as their older counterparts. One third of the younger people in the survey had to take out their cell phones just to remember their own phone numbers, and even relative's birthdays were out of reach for many.
"When [neuroscientist Ian] Robertson asked his subjects to tell them a relative's birth date, 87 percent of respondents over age 50 could recite it, while less than 40 percent of those under 30 could do so."
This growing trend is indicative of the changing nature of our world and clearly shows how much humans depend on technology. From email and home addresses to lunch and dinner dates, from trivia and pop culture references to airline and bus schedules, our society has started to change from one in which we keep these facts in our head to one in which we simply look up that information when we need it.
Your Outboard Brain Knows All (Wired)
Google is doing all they can to make sure that we continue this trend, with the most prominent strategy being their new deals to put a lite version of their familiar web search on cell phones. In addition, they are also working out new deals to put Google Maps kiosks onto gas pumps that will allow the user to print driving directions from the pump. There are a number of good reasons for keeping information that can be Googled from cluttering up one's mind, as computer memory is cheap and getting cheaper, with researchers at Arizona State University announcing the possibility of a thumb drive that could store a terabyte of information once the nanotechnology matures enough.
T-Mobile Wagers Deal With Google Is Worth the Risk (Wall Street Journal)
Google Gives Drivers A Hand At The Gas Pumps (Information Week)
Nanotechnology to enable video of entire human life (Foresight Nanotech Institute)
For a number of years now, I have had a policy that I really try to stick to: If it can be Googled, I don't have to remember it. That dovetails nicely with my professional life where my greatest strength is not my knowledge of everything geek, but my ability to effectively search for that information when I need it. Still, it seems a little odd to me that so many people can't even remember their own cell phone number, though they are simply taking my policy to the extreme.
How much information do you actually commit to memory? Are you an eidetic savant, memory challenged, or somewhere in between? Can you rattle off your phone number off the top of your head? I can, but don't ask me for my best friend's number, I will have to look it up on my phone!