As we became accustomed to relying on the printed page, the work of remembering is gradually falling into disuse.Â We are outsourcing our brains to the cloud, slowly but surely. Is this a bad thing? And what does this mean for what our brains can do?
I’m not sure. It does explain why we can’t declaim long poems off by heart the way people could a century ago. But I don’t think that’s a sign of a weak brain. Rather, it’s a sign of a brain addressing a different environment. We’re faced with so many times more information than our predecessors were that they could be more focused, could remember more long detailed chunks. We, on the other hand, remember many more types of things, but smaller chunks.Â Today, we don’t need to have things memorized in order to “have” them. We only need to remember the slightest bit about them in order to be able to look them up and have the complete item at our fingertips.
Where does this leave our creative sides? Do we have more options to choose from when we go to create because we’ve seen so many more examples of creativity? Or do we lose out by not getting really close to fewer pieces of art, the way you do when you know a book inside and out, or memorize a poem, or really study a painting?
Do you feel as though you’ve lost something – or are we on the right track? Also,Â I wonder if there’s a mental version of defragmenting a hard drive. Don’t you think it would be helpful?
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