New York Times: The Outsourced Brain

by Volker Weber

Until that moment, I had thought that the magic of the information age was that it allowed us to know more, but then I realized the magic of the information age is that it allows us to know less. It provides us with external cognitive servants — silicon memory systems, collaborative online filters, consumer preference algorithms and networked knowledge. We can burden these servants and liberate ourselves.

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[Thanks, Richard]

Comments

I can understand this statement when I see young people who are used to the computer and their ability to do simple mental arithmetic.

Cem Basman, 2007-10-26

I have to agree that it "allows us to know less." If knowing less meant that we were free to do other, more worthwhile endeavors, that would be good. But where are the pointers that we are enhancing the "big brain?" All I see is, like Cem, people losing their ability to do simple math, or know the location of Iran, or any of another number of basic things. No, I think that it is allowing us to use less of our brain.

I love my GPS, but I don't like the fact that I have no reference point. I still bring out the road map, so that I can get the bigger picture.

Gregg Eldred, 2007-10-26

I think the problems start when people don't use the net as a brain extender, but as a replacement. I feel using the net to broaden your knowledge and views is excellent, but if you are an idiot it does not help if you know only how to enter a phrase in a search field of Google or any other search engine.

Armin Auth, 2007-10-26

Also see this xkcd comic from last week.

Ralph Unden, 2007-10-27

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