Morning Cup O' Joe

Time you enjoy wasting isn't wasted time.

Is Technology Brain Draining?

 Internal News Images Memory Challenge
How many of you “off-load” brain-kept items onto technological media of some sort? I do, big time. I keep my tasks in Remember The Milk. I keep my contacts and calendar in Plaxo. I jot down ideas and random thoughts in Google Notebook. I wouldn’t be able to tell you my parents’ or my sister’s cell phone numbers. I could tell you their speed dial IDs, though.

One thing I noticed, though, is that I’ve become adept at “looking things up” rather than memorizing things. Being a software engineer, I’d say that 50% of my career knowledge lies in knowing where to find information rather than knowing it off-hand. Is that a bad thing?

If you were interviewing somebody for a job, would you discount them completely if they didn’t have enough facts memorized to answer your question? If potential employees provided a sound plan of attack to a problem which included references to essential facts (rather than the facts themselves), would that suffice?


October 15, 2007 - Posted by | Science and Technology


  1. The interviewing technique that is considered the most reliable is to focus on asking questions of potential employees that focus on their past behaviors and experiences. Therefore if you’re asking people about what they’ve done in the past, they should have a pretty good idea of what they’ve done. If they can’t recall, that might be a sign that they aren’t right for the team.

    I for one am more interested in a person’s thought process and what kinds of challenges they’ve dealt with and how. Usually you can gauge if someone is making up a past experience. Missing details aren’t a big deal if the big pieces are all fitting into place.

    Comment by morgan | October 16, 2007

  2. The sci-fi book “Hyperion” actually dealt in part with this effect. In the future setting of the book, people basically had cybernetic implants which allowed them to mentally connect to the future equivalent of the Internet. This allowed them to reference anything, any time, anywhere. This meant that virtually no one memorized anything, since it was all available all the time. The book didn’t center around that, but it came up a couple of times with one of the characters who lamented the fact (he was a poet).

    Comment by Joe | October 16, 2007

  3. Good thing to note, Morgan. Thanks for sharing!

    Joe, you’ve mentioned this book before. Now I really want to read it.

    You just reminded me about a conversation I had (with you guys, maybe?) where I mentioned that I rely less and less on browser bookmarks and more and more on being adept with Google search techniques.

    Comment by Mike | October 16, 2007

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