Psychology, Tech

Poor Memory in The Internet Age

A woman thinking

A woman thinking (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a ridiculously bad memory which is a problem in an age where we are bombarded with information that we have to remember for work or at home. This is why I’m writing this on a notepad in the bath, before I forget it.

My poor short-term recall is one of the main reasons I’m single. I am pathologically terrified of small-talk or rather my inability to spontaneously make it.

My last few relationships have been generally been with confident and, most importantly, talkative women as I am a good listener. I have however a limited list of subjects to start or continue a conversation with in those rosy early days of a relationship because I can’t remember what I’ve been previously told and can’t remember subjects to make conversations about such as things happening in the news or in a magazine I’ve read, or gossip about friends.

My problem is in my brain’s ability to tag memories as important, most things just enter and go straight to long term memory without being registered as being sufficiently important to remember a few hours or a day or so down the line. I can remember taking a photo of a scene when I’m in the same spot again or an obscure fact if I’m reminded of it but just picking out a random fact is just impossible.

My memory requires a prompt to recall anything and even then sometimes it takes a while to drag the relevant facts to the front, and if the event that I need to remember happened while I was very busy then recalling it becomes extremely difficult unless I’ve made some effort to definitely remember it.

It’s bad enough trying to remember what I’ve read in a magazine as the first article has been forgotten as I’ve read the second but the volume of information available via the internet makes it even worse and trying to remember facts to write into blog posts is a nightmare.  The anxiety of not being able to remember what I want to say is part of why I put off writing and instead employ decoy habits to distract me from what I want to do which is write.  Some say the internet will cause us to stop remembering facts and rely on Google instead but that’s a different problem, what if you don’t even remember what you wanted to find?

There are techniques to alleviate the problem, from focussing more on the information being received, thinking about it before moving onto the next thing, associating the information with an image in the mind, writing things down, and more that I, to be honest, can’t remember.  I have notebooks, both paper and Evernote- based, filled with disjointed information which I can, one day pull together into something interesting and useful but the first step is overcoming the fear of not knowing what to say.  Eating more healthily, exercise and getting enough sleep are also meant to be beneficial and I keep telling myself that my memory is getting better as with so many mind related issues often believing you can do something is half the battle.

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Tech

Normal Service Will Resume Shortly

Information overload

Information overload (Photo credit: Martino!)

This blog is just over a month old and it’s not been the best month to start something this time-consuming.  I have also found though that although I have plenty of ideas for articles most of them require a bit of research and source material and this is where I found a problem.

I have thousands of bookmarks in Firefox and lists of information in various places but no cohesive structure to tie it all together so at the moment I’m doing my best headless chicken impression to copy all these various sources of information into one place and this is where modern technology comes into its own again.

I realised a few weeks ago that an elephant could help me.

Before you ask what I’ve been smoking this elephant is the logo of Evernote whose collection of apps for just about any platform and even a webapp that I can access from work or any other computer is making this task of organising my virtual box of scraps of paper manageable.

I have notebooks containing whole articles or collections of notes or links to webpages that will become articles while other notebooks contain information on wider subjects that will be useful for many articles or books.  All these notebooks can be grouped together to organise things further and pages in one notebook can be linked on other pages so you can create webs of information in one place, ready to be pulled together, mixed vigorously and foisted onto the web, baked to perfection like a chocolate gateaux.

Combined with resources such as search engines and online encyclopaedias this ability to connect, sort and utilise the huge amount of information at our fingertips is one of the true 21st Century wonders.

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