Do You Use Your Outboard Brain?


I loved this article form this months Wired - Your Outboard Brain Knows All. The main thrust was our growing reliance on technology to supplement our memory. Here's as simple test

    • do you know your own mobile phone number?

many of you will of course but in the research conducted by neuroscientist Ian Robertson with 3000 people, over a third of under 30's couldn't remember and whipped out their mobile to check. I know my own mobile number but know several friends who don't. Equally, when I'm asked a question I'm not sure of I'm likely these days to check on Wikipedia using my mobile device. That tells me two things

    • I trust Wikiepdia a lot (scary)
    • I have an outboard brain mentality

Clive Thompson's point is well made

"...the cyborg future is here. Almost without noticing it, we've outsourced important peripheral brain functions to the silicon around us"

Is it a good thing or bad? I agree with Clive, I like it in the main. I think some of my family think it's weird but I've grown up with the Internet over the last 20 years and it's been the lifeblood of my career so maybe I'm just giving it something back. My peripheral memory! Like Clive, my blog has become my external data archive. Many things I mention in conversation appear on my blog so I can just refer people there and in 5 years time it'll be a biography or sorts. At what point does the overlap happen though, when my outboard brain stores more than my personal one. Hmm, probably in about 10 years time...or less. Eeek

Comments (5)

  1. Jamie Akers says:

    The funny thing is, it’s easier to remember my number than remember how to get it on my Windows Mobile device… !

  2. Steve Clayton: Geek In Disguise : Do You Use Your Outboard Brain? Well done to Steve again for sourcing

  3. Beyond | IT says:

    If you found this post on the "hive mind" intriguing, you may also find Clive’s Thompson’s article in

  4. Chris at LG says:

    The important thing to realise is that what did people use for outboard brains before the Internet? Answer: they didn’t. People didn’t keep it all in their heads, they just didn’t learn it all. By having that outboard feature we can now learn more stuff and broader topics. I think it’s a great thing and not something to be too scared of or go ‘eek at.

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