Search vs. racking your brains: computers and memory

By William Seidman Here’s  an interesting article about the impact of computers and the internet on the organization of memory. It turns out that when information can be easily retrieved,  people spend a lot less effort remembering it – but we have gotten pretty good at remembering where to find it. People have shifted from remembering specific facts to remembering where specific facts are stored, usually in a computer system.  This finding is consistent with our work with positive deviants. They don’t spend a lot of time understanding specific facts, processes or procedures because these change a lot and are easily retrieved. Instead, they protect their mental processing power for focusing on purpose and mastery. Mastery includes knowing where facts are located, but only in a broad organizing sense. This has important implications for system deployments, particularly for training on systems. We are involved with a CRM deployment right now; the technical people really believe that the system is going to change the sales culture. They propose teaching people the facts of the system, which is how it actually operates. We think it needs a broader context. Training is not the same as educating.  Educate people on the purpose of the system and the ways the system helps mastery and they will rapidly learn to use the system to support their efforts.]]>

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