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July 15, 2011

Forget something? Not to worry, Google’s got your back.

In this post, Tyler takes a look at how Google affects our lives, and our way of life…

For my first blog here at Blue Door, I decided to write about a topic that has piqued my interest for some time now.

Tyler Reinhard

Back when I made a living as ‘techie,’ I came across an article entitled ‘The Tacit Dimension of Tech Support.’The article describes how we all use tacit knowledge in our daily lives, rather than just simple memorization.I hung on to it because it answers a question I heard quite often – ‘How do you remember all this stuff?’ As the author explains, the answer (for the most part) is simple: I don’t.If I could, I’d have won millions by now on Jeopardy.What I do know is how to find the information I’m looking for, and I can usually do so rather quickly.I’m not alone, however.Each of us uses Google to some degree, and more and more of us are using it as an extension of our own memory.

The other day, I came across another article that touched on that very topic, entitled ‘Google Searches May Influence What People Forget.’This piece references a study in which a control group is told to write down a piece of trivia, and then told that the information will be deleted.Another group is told to do the same, and that the information would be saved.The folks that thought the information would be deleted were more likely to remember what they had written.

How did this happen?Why Google?More importantly, why didn’t this happen back in the late ’90s?Part of the answer may be that only in the last few years have smartphones become mainstream, and literally given everyone the knowledge of the world in their pocket.Now we know that we don’t even have to have a PC in front of us to access information.So we become less reliant upon our own built-in data storage systems, using them now to store paths to data, rather than the data itself.We also know that Google gets us to our information the quickest.When was the last time you used an encyclopedia?Your average 15 year old has never even heard of one.Your average 55 year old probably still has a set, albeit a little dusty.

It is clear that the paths to information have been dramatically changing, and will continue to do so.These changes not only affect what we know, but how we know it, and have a tremendous impact on us as a culture.To quote the authors of the study, ‘It isn’t clear what the effects of being so “wired” will have on people over time.’What do you think?How do you think our relationship with the internet will continue to evolve?