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Technology & Innovation

How the Digital Age Has Changed Memory

Today we are remembering less information than ever and our memories are online for all our friends to see. But remembering is a personal event—do we want to experience it collectively?

What’s the Latest Development?

Memories that once overflowed the measurethink of Proustare now condensed on Twitter and categorized in Flickr. And thanks to digital storage, all the trivial notes your family and friends have ever written you will remain in email account forever. Our memories are getting more social, too, as we share all the things that used to remain in the top drawer like vacation photos and thoughtful letters. Is this a cheapening of our memories or a way of enriching the network in which all our past actions exist?

What’s the Big Idea?

Besides the slippery stuff of memories, the digital age is changing what we use our brains for. Rather than store important facts, today we are more likely to store information about how to find those factswhere a particular file is located on the computer, how to find an important webpage again, and so on. External storage of information has existed since paper and pen but the capacity of electronics has exploded our ability to not remember things. What is the value of committing primary information to memory?

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