“I know history is important, but do I need to know when Akbar was born and when Shah Jahan died! If needed, I can just google it”
“Why should I by heart the first 30 elements of the Periodic Table in order? Can’t I just Google that?”
“I suck at exams! They ask questions based on formulae. Why is it necessary to remember formulae! I can derive them. I know the concept. But they don’t get enough time in the exam. I mean, we can always Google formulae right?”
I am quite sure at some point in your life you would’ve bashed our educational system for being all about memorizing facts!
In this article, I hope to draw attention to a concept I came across in Limitless by Jim Kwik.
We like to delegate our memory to things. We no longer make an effort to remember 10 digits needed to call up a friend!
If we could, we would just rather google facts and figures instead of having to memorize them. But, we pay heavily for this seemingly amazing tool – Google.
For the comfort of having information at our fingertips, we pay the price of our creativity creating a sinkhole to any good idea!
I took a course by Neil Gaiman on the Art of Storytelling where he put it quite simply that a story is nothing but taking two or more concepts/ideas and mashing them together and asking questions about them!
And that is the case with ideas as well. And memory too.
In the book, Jim mentions that memory is dependent on two things:
- Creating new neural pathways
- The strength of the neural network
Each new path created is equivalent to one piece of memory, or an idea. It basically joins one neuron to another!
And the strength of these connections determines how long we remember something!
Wait, but why does this even matter?
Just like stories are connections of two concepts/ideas. And an idea is a linkage between two or more facts or pieces in memory!
And we can’t develop an idea when a fact doesn’t exist! We wouldn’t know what we don’t know!
A comedian makes jokes by using analogies that surprise us. And to make an analogy, the comedian must have knowledge about them!
To make this simpler,
I had to know and remember the process of how a comedian makes a joke to use that as an analogy to bridge the content of this newsletter to something we could relate to!
And that is why over-reliance on technology for our memory limits creativity and originality.
Googling things definitely makes our lives easier, but keeping the big picture in mind we must understand that ideas are what keep us going! We live to master the beautiful concoction of electric signals in our mind. Cal Newport talks about the importance of “Intelligence and thought based jobs” in the future in his book Deep Work.
To make something new, we need knowledge and facts in our memory. Our smartphones shouldn’t think for us for two reasons.
- If they did, we’d just become potatoes.
- We get amazing ideas in our showers! You wouldn’t want to risk taking your phone in the shower, would you?
Puns aside. How do we then work on reducing our dependency from googling stuff?
- Just read Jim’s book! It is a great resource talking about so many facets of our minds!
- Train your memory. Whenever you find something. Try to make a conscious effort to learn it.
- Make notes of things you learn.
- Revisit those notes frequently! This is spaced repetition
- Try dreaming up unlikely scenarios! This pushes you to reach out to parts of your memory you usually don’t and strengthen the neural pathways.
You might not be able to remember everything, but everything you store in your memory, the more ideas you can create.
In the end, I’d like to point out that our ideas, creativity and originality are only as limited as our memory is!
Two Minute Actionable
Think about a scenario!
How would you build a car which did not have a steering wheel in an age before AI existed?
More Power to you!