I mentioned a couple of posts back that my memory is getting more and more unreliable. I’ve been thinking about it since, and concluded that the cause may not be old age, so much as my growing dependence on Google.
I’m using Google more and more in my everyday life. I want to look up a fact, verify a quotation, get song lyrics? I google it. I’m doing a crossword, want to look up the meaning of a word and find my dictionary doesn’t list it? I go to Google and type the word, followed by “:definition”. I want to check the spelling of a word? I type the word into the Google search box and see if Google helpfully asks “Did you mean —?”. I come across an acronym that I can’t work out the meaning of? Again I Google it (although this might take some time – acronyms these days have dozens of meanings).
BG (Before Google), I used to do all this sort of stuff for myself – I’d look amongst my books, dig into my memory; I’d keep a whole pile of facts in my head for reference. As a last resort, I’d go to the library and spend a couple of hours riffling through the tomes. But, mainly, I’d use that wetware computer lying between my ears.
Nowadays, though, I’m needing that wetware computer less and less. I use Gmail for emailing, so when I’m reading an email and want to look up something that the writer has mentioned, I just c&p it into that handy-dandy search box; in a minute or less, I’ll have the information I want and, if needed, can include it in my reply. Thus, I have acquired a reputation for intelligence amongst my email correspondents. I use Firefox as my browser, configured with Google as my top search option; I can do a google search without leaving the page. Again, I can come up with information at a speed that impresses an audience.
And I used Google at least twice in writing this post.
Thinking about this, I’m wondering how far this will go. Right now, I’m only connected to the mighty Google via a mouse and keyboard. But what if Google were to come up with something like a wi-fi brain implant that accesses the whole world-wide web of information for you at the twitch of a muscle? Would I want to have one of those?
The fact that I waver over giving an answer to that is a little bit alarming, I find.