Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Who knew that I would have another memory post from Slate so soon? But I do. In this very short video, Slate tells us that most people cannot fill in the typing keyboard when given blank keys. Apparently, typing is something of its own phenomenon, as people learn how to type without really memorizing the layout of the keyboard in the first place. I wonder if this makes it like the piano, where I suppose most people pick out tunes before they can play by touch. Just as most people probably hunt and peck on a keyboard before they can touch type. I was a very late learner at touch typing and find that even as I type this, I really have no idea exactly how I'm doing it. Although I do know that I often type wrong.  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Memory and photography

I thought this brief piece over on Slate would be a good one to mention on this blog. As I've long suspected, taking pictures doesn't aid memory and often impairs it.  I'm no expert on this, but I wonder if this doesn't have something to do with the transactive memory effect I linked to here awhile ago.

The best way to travel I've long thought is for someone else to be in charge of the long as they'll make you copies of their shots.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Alzheimer's--a quick and simple thing you can do

You can click HERE to urge your members of Congress to co-sponsor the Hope For Alzheimer's Act (H.R. 1507/S. 709). Luckily for me, my representatives, Congressman Sam Farr and Senators Feinstein and Boxer are already on board. Why don't you check and see if yours are too. Maybe they just need a little prompting... 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Madeleine shocker

I came across a piece about the iconic cookie of memory over at Slate a few days ago, itself retrieved from the archives, in other words the "memory" of the magazine.

Be forewarned--some Proustian illusions may be shattered. On the other hand, you may just find yourself feeling really, really hungry...


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Transactive Memory

I got an unusual email last night informing me that there were now twenty-two subscribers to this blog via that website. Odd if true, since I  haven't posted to this particular blog for well over a year. Just in case any of these subscribers are both real and pining for information, I thought I'd at least update this blog while I was thinking about it. Besides, I'd been meaning to put up a link here anyway.

Clive Thompson has a recent article on Slate which is excerpted from his book Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds For the Better. You should just head on over there and read it, but the basic idea is that although we like to think we contain our memory within ourselves, in reality we have always been more than happy to apportion the load. The development in what he terms 'transactive memory' is that we now share the load with machines as well as human partners. And of course I suppose dictionaries and encyclopedias and other texts were the predigital way of having a memory outside ourselves.

An interesting point he makes about the way this memory technique is different from earlier ones is that search engines are not things we can know as well as people and texts. We don't always think about the for profit nature of the hierarchy of information revealed. A lot of people are spending a lot of money to make sure their information rests somewhere near the top, so do yourself a favor and keep the internet more democratic--scroll down a few pages for your answer from time to time.