The internet is an amazing part of technology. The algorithms (the code and instructions a search engine uses to create its results) grow more and more complicated, more and more accurate, more and more personalized almost every day. Search engines have become so much a part of our daily lives that we’ve turned their names into verbs. You are just as quick to understand the command to “search for it” as you are to “google it” or “bing it,” although the latter is not quite as popular as the former.
We laud the access to information, declaring it a wonderful thing to be able to track down the information we need with the click of a mouse. Gone are the days of door-to-door encyclopedia salesmen. How many of you reading this even know what those were? Let us not be too quick, however, to assume that our memories are no longer needed for information storage and recollection.
The mind is still, by far, the greater of the two. You may be able to type “beaver” into a search engine and discover links telling you about the animal, college sports mascots, dams, and hairstyles; this is true. It is unlikely, however, that typing “beaver” into a search engine will return a result with Dr. Seuss’ poem, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” Your mind is fully capable of a result like this though. One can remember going for a hike through the woods, seeing your first beaver’s dam–hence, the beaver connection, and then resting to eat some of Grandma’s cookies. While remembering eating Grandma’s cookies, you remember the smell of those cookies, which reminds you of the time you sat on Grandma’s lap as a youngster, she reading Dr. Seuss’ memorable poem, while cookies baked in the nearby kitchen oven.
This is exactly what happens in those strange conversations we sometimes have. You are having a conversation with someone and they say something completely off-topic. You have no idea where it came from. Once you ask, however, your friend links together a chain of thoughts that connects the strange comment she just made to the previous topic you were just discussing. With that, it all makes perfect sense.
Search engines, apart from being loaded with all of the sensory memories you have–sights, sounds, smells, and touches–will never be able to do what you can do with your mind. Thus, learning and remembering facts provide those additional points needed to connect to all of those sensory memories you have. The ancient Greeks may have been right to make Memory the mother of the Muses. It is the memory that is necessary to provide us with the inspiration to create: art, poetry, music, all of the beauty that fills our world.
So don’t give up on good old-fashioned trivia yet; it’s an important part of who you are as a human being. It’s what sets you apart from search engines and makes you greater than they ever will be. It’s one of the reasons why search engines and technology will never be able to replace the wonders of the human mind.