Betsy Sparrow, Jenny Liu, Daniel M. Wegner, (2011) Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips, Science 5 August 2011: 776-778.Published online 14 July 2011
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.