Every year John Brockman poses a provocative question to the members of his Edge community, which includes me (he is my literary agent). Past questions have included “What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?” and “What have you changed your mind about?”. This year’s question is: “How is the internet changing the way you think?”. There were 172 answers from “an array of world-class scientists, artists, and creative thinkers”. Here’s mine.
IT HAS SHARPENED MY MEMORY
The internet has not changed the way I think. The old stone-age mental software still seems to be working surprisingly well in the 21st century, despite claims to the contrary. What the internet has done, however, is sharpen my memory.
A quick search with a few well chosen keywords is usually enough to turn a decaying memory of a half-forgotten article, scientific paper or news item into perfect recall of the information in question. Previously, these things at the penumbra of recollection could only be recovered with a great deal of effort or luck. The internet has, in effect, upgraded my memory of such marginal items from haphazard and partial to reliable and total. Read More