The Science Author Clive Thompson Does Not Think Tech Is Ruining Your Mind

Scientist Clive Thompson thinks digital tools are making us smarter:

We are social thinkers, and we are also social rememberers, we use our co-workers, our partners and our friends to help us retrieve the details about things that they they are better at remembering than we are. And they’ve used us in the same way. Memory has always been social. Now we’re using search engines and computers to augment our memories, too.

Contrary to popular opinion, we’re not losing our memories to Google and Wikipedia. They too are social tools we use to fill in our information gaps.

ambient awareness happens in aggregate while you follow someone for a year or two, and that’s when these insignificant tweets add up to give us meaning. We use these tools over a long period of time and we develop a deep ESP-like sense of the intellectual and emotional lives of the people we care about.

This is true. After following people for a few years on Twitter, I feel like I begin to know them, their style, their sentiment, and can predict their perspective on certain issues. People are acting more online like they do in real life.

Tip-of-the-tongue syndrome is when people almost remember something but need a computer, or someone else, to help them find it. The problem is, our brains have always been terrible at remembering details. They were like that way before the Internet came along. We’re very good at remember meaning, but we constantly mess up the details. One of the ways we’ve always resolved tip-of-the-tongue was by using other people. Now we have machines that help us resolve tip-of-the-tongue.

Every time I forget something I try to remember it naturally first. If that doesn’t work I generally consult others and then search the Internet.

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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of and four books.