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Is the Internet Changing Our Memory?

Many of us spend hours a day on the Internet, and whenever we have a question, it's easy to go to Google to quickly look up information. Is this changing the way our memory works? Anthony is here to explain how living in a world of constant information is affecting us.


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I have always had a good

I have always had a good memory, the internet hasnt changed that.

To climb the mountain, you must believe you can.

is it affecting our memory?

yes. yes, it is.

how? that's a whole different matter and wasn't the question.

the fact is that everything "CHANGES our memory" if you learn something new, or forget something, your "memory has changed" ... so... just based on that alone, yes, it is affecting our memory.

I use Blue Wave, but don't expect one of THEIR silly taglines.

No. The internet is a source of information

Whether you remember that info when you read it is a whole other story.

Computers in general are effecting peoples memories. How many phone numbers do you have on your cell phone? If you lost that phone how many number could you remember? That's what I thought.

We have become dependent on computer memory to keep track of those things. It is all more evidence of the dumbing down of civilization.

The dumbing down is not a plan of the elite but simply an inherent effect of our so called technological advancement. One day we will advance ourselves into the stone age.

Cyril's picture

It has certainly preserved people's capability for solidarity

It has certainly preserved people's capability for solidarity against crimes, including informing themselves about the state's crimes performed thanks to it :


The Internet and the WWW have scaled well to continue benefit the defense of liberty and ideas, and to somehow constrain a state propaganda (ever growing on TV, and elsewhere)... so far, anyway.

Which is precisely why "they" want it to kneel before their laws, its turn. For our own safety, of course.


"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

Michael Nystrom's picture

An offboard extension of our mind...

Regarding what he says right at the beginning about the internet:

"Whether the internet is a solid functional archive or not, we have a tendency to treat it that way...we treat it like an offboard extension of our mind..."

The other night my internet went out. That was so frustrating! Not to be able to call up this whole wealth of information.

I got the idea into my head that it was the wireless router, so I reset it, then was unable to reset it properly. My first impulse was to Google the solution but - right, no internet. I realized just how much I take it for granted. Eventually I Googled it on my not-dumb phone and found the instructions. But it was disconcerting.

- - - -

The internet has had a different effect on me, that doesn't have to do so much with memory, but with presence. I almost feel schizophrenic, though I'm not sure I'm using that word right. But I've got all these people now in my head - people I've never met or spoken to, but who I know about. There's you, the panda boy, dwalters wanting to work for liberty, all these naive Rah Rah Randers, and the equally naive anti-Randers, paduraru in Transylvania singing and showing us his pristine environment. Et cetera.

It is enriching. It makes one feel less lonely. Americans are pretty isolated. It is nice in that way, but it is also weird in a way that I can't quite articulate.

There are a few books on this topic, but one that I read a few years back that I enjoyed tremendously is called Hamlet's Blackberry.

Ironically, three years after the book was published, Blackberry is practically out of business. Three years from now people will probably think this is about fruit.

He's the man.
jrd3820's picture

But then in a way it kind of has effected your memory

Your story is a perfect example. You had a problem that you didn't know how to just fix without the internet. You have not remembered the steps necessary to fix said problem because you are used to being able to just google it. And most people in your situation would have had to do the same thing.

Memory is just one of the few things though. You are right about the presence of other people, it is one of the strongest aspects of an online community. But not all sites and or forums achieve the community feel the way this one has done. Or The Well...What an interesting and important piece of counter culture.

You know the DP will go down in counter culture history right? Maybe not in the same sense as The Well, but as a massive online force behind a pretty much 3rd party Presidential candidate. I wrote a paper for a poli sci class in 09 or 10 maybe about how important internet forums and social media were becoming to campaigns and that will only grow over the next couple decades.

I just listened to a marketwatch report the other day about how candidates are spending a considerable amount less on television advertising each year and putting more and more into internet style advertising. Yet the DP was an early pioneer and a completely grassroots effort, and quite successful.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
― Dr. Seuss

The internet is not only affecting our memory but

(as the guy said) the *processing* of information. He mentioned it in the context that that's why it's affecting *long-term* memory. But it's less the long-term memory aspect that's my concern as the loss of our ability *to* process information.

It affects one's self-sufficiency (for one). One of my children told me of this girl in college who woke up to find it snowing out. She called her FATHER because she didn't know if classes had been cancelled. He contacted the school and called her back to let her know. That's someone in college. Seems to have forgotten how to use her BRAIN. :(

But also, it's making us rather superficial. We see all this data, might even post some three line comment about it, and then whoosh. It's gone. I myself went back and read some of my comments from when I was new here. I'd swear it wasn't me who'd written them. Not that I wasn't impressed by some of my comments :), but that I simply had no recollection because... the whole ISSUE was in and out of my mind that quickly. *Knowledge* (knowledge with any DEPTH, as opposed to rote memory of FACTS, as opposed to us being mere data storage centers) comes from THINKING about something. Who really does that? We can't afford the time! There's already NEW DATA coming in!

Also, the world is all about "specialists" now, EXPERTS in their respective fields but who know little outside of their immediate domain. At the same time, we're jumping from one thing to another without thinking. WHO, IF ANYONE, IS SEEING THE BIG PICTURE. That's what I believe true knowledge is - when you have the ability to view things holistically. (I loved finding the quote by John Muir. I'd say that epitomizes pretty much all that I stand for - as you picked up re education, but really... everything.)

It takes THINKING and OBSERVATION skills. Who even really observes these days. Who perceives nuances? (Is the word even still in the dictionary!) Who even has that ABILITY any longer? Who operates at that slow of a PACE that facilitates that? Today, you want to get someone's attention, you have to get "in their face."

Btw, jrd, I'm glad I chased you down. I'd missed this post. I'm only here by chance. :) See, I don't know if you've been following my communication with Promisekept, but we've been talking about sound. I'm fascinated by the subject, have been since 1992, when I read that the "heavenly choir" is a little more than just a metaphor. There's the physical aspect of sound. But it gets into what I guess I'd call metaphysics. Yet it's not even your usual "new age" conversation, as we're both committed Christians, the kind who believe what it says in the Bible. And, see, to me that's what makes this all even more amazing. I only read the Bible after having given no small amount of thought to issues *such as* the effect of SOUND on the human body and brain. Reading the Bible, I see it as totally in synch with views I know from elsewhere (new age, so to speak).

Anyway, I love talking to Promisekept about sound and what we've been feeding each other and where it's led to from merely listening to songs at 432 vs 440 Hz. Recently, I commented that I thought it was funny that I'd ended up having such a dialogue on a website one would classify as political. It gave me the idea for... a story! One that I thought of because maybe it reflects TRUTH! :) What if this group of us on the ark only thought it was issues that related to Ron Paul that brought us together? What if really it's something else? I mean, there's Promisekept and me talking about sound... and now water. There's you and me with (among other things) this soft spot for elephants. Clearly there's some sort of soul connection among some of us here. Well, if nothing else, it's food for THOUGHT!

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
~ John Muir

jrd3820's picture


I've been following your conversation on and off with promisekept. While I think the information you two are sharing back and forth is interesting, I've been following with a curiosity of that of which you mentioned.

It reminded me of our friend Rocketman. When I first started actively commenting around here, Rocketman and I actually had a few run ins where he really didn't like me.

It was in that thread where we slowly chipped that away, by exchanging music. By the end him and I had inside jokes and would get way off topic in other threads just wanting to say Hi and catch up. But the only thing him and I ever had in common was that at some point in our lives we both stumbled our way across this Ron Paul guy. Yet there we were, not even at the same site, but interested in the same thread.

And Mountaincat. He is in West Virginia, there is a bit of an age gap between him and I. We have things in common, but it goes beyond Ron Paul. In fact if Ron Paul wasn't in the picture, I bet him and I would find a million things to talk about still. Same with Has.

Michael is another really good example for me. It is clear to most that him and I talk often. Did you know he is really interested in technology? I am not. I don't like most things tech. I don't even have one of those fancy smart phones yet. I have little to no gadgets besides my ipod, but that is just an ipod from I think 08 ish, it's not even an ipad. There is an age gap between him and I and of course a location gap, yet once again here we are sharing stories and communicating often.

The internet is changing a lot of things regarding communication and personal connections. A soul connection.... that is interesting M.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
― Dr. Seuss