The Influence of Search Engines on Memory
“Research from Columbia University confirmed… that we are committing less to memory, opting instead to remember where information can be found on the Internet."
"Four years ago, Betsy Sparrow became exasperated watching an old black-and-white film called Gaslight. She recognized the young actress playing the maid but couldn't remember her name. Luckily, she had her smartphone. “I found the answer online immediately,” she says, and the relief was palpable."
The study included a series of four memory tests that were presented in the form of trivia statements. So what was discovered? Those who “believed the information would be accessible” performed poorly on the memory test in comparison to those who “believed the information was gone.”
According to researcher Betsy Sparrow, we are restructuring the way that we recall and store information in our memories as a result of the creation of search engines. This can be a good change in some areas. For example, scholars now have to put forth less effort memorizing facts and can therefore “engage themselves toward attaining understanding.”
The advent of the Internet, with sophisticated algorithmic search engines, has made accessing information as easy as lifting a finger. No longer do we have to make costly efforts to find the things we want. We can “Google” the old classmate, find articles online, or look up the actor who was on the tip of our tongue. The results of four studies suggest that when faced with difficult questions, people are primed to think about computers and that when people expect to have future access to information, they have lower rates of recall of the information itself and enhanced recall instead for where to access it. The Internet has become a primary form of external or transactive memory, where information is stored collectively outside ourselves.
Who gets the short end of the stick with this change in memory (or decrease in amount of memorized information)? Well since our business here at Spore Creative is marketing your business, the obvious answer to us is businesses that can’t be easily found through search engines.
Look back at our previous blogs and you will find that we have discussed the necessity of having your business accessible online. Now research shows that our recommendations have academic backing. People are unlikely to remember your businesses name or website, because most consumers will go to the internet to find the information they need.
Last night, for example, I was trying to find the address of a restaurant I wanted to eat at. I Googled it and found where it was located. I would not have been able to use the phonebook though, because I remembered the name wrong. Had the restaurant not come up in my search, I would have chosen another restaurant to eat at.
We are specialist in search engine optimization and web design at Spore Creative. If you think that you might need to boost your search ratings or (worse yet) if you have an outdated or nonexistent website look into our services here on our site or call to set up a meeting.