Well I guess we all knew this but recently published research by Betsy Sparrow, Jenny Liu and Daniel M. Wegner for Science Magazine entitled “Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips” (snappy title isn’t it) confirms what we all feared.
Google is making us stupid!
So the science bit goes a little like this.
Our brains process information in various ways however when presented with a new piece of information that the brain expects to be able to access from an external source at a later date, instead of remembering said information, it remembers where to find it and in 2011 that means one thing. The Internet!
So people are actually using Google as their own personal memory banks. An extension of their own brains without being conscious they are doing so!
Or in science speak:
The advent of the Internet, with sophisticated algorithmic search engines, has made accessing information as easy as lifting a finger. No longer do we have to make costly efforts to find the things we want. We can “Google” the old classmate, find articles online, or look up the actor who was on the tip of our tongue. The results of four studies suggest that when faced with difficult questions, people are primed to think about computers and that when people expect to have future access to information, they have lower rates of recall of the information itself and enhanced recall instead for where to access it. The Internet has become a primary form of external or transactive memory, where information is stored collectively outside ourselves.
So the full research can be found over at Science Magazine (sorry but you need to subscribe to download the very long and detailed research paper) but it really does appear that without us realising it, our own brains have been moving to the cloud as well.
So are our children destined to just be a collection of meta directories on legs? Do you think Google can find a way to monetise this phenomenon? Will Google take over the world (and our minds)? Do you want fries with that?
[UPDATE – 2nd January 2012]
For the last few months, the ability of ScanDrop to upload directly into Google Docs has been broken and thus disabled.
The manufacturers keep telling us that they are working on a fix and that it will be with us soon however until that actually happens (and remember this has been broken for months), the functionality of this software is seriously limited.
The full review is still here in the hope they will one day fix it.
There has been a lot of talk in the press this week about the new Apple iCloud announced at the Apple WWDC.
But it is this article in the Register that prompted me to comment.
Now this article goes on about how if all your documents, music, contacts etc etc etc are in the iCloud, you won’t need terabytes of local storage thus the comment about the demise of the hard drive market. Read more
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Google Docs however I have to admit from time to time, it can be a little clunky. In my opinion, the one area it has always fallen short is the whole document or file upload capability.
Well today this changed and Google have introduced two game changing features to Docs.
Firstly you can now upload FOLDERS!
That’s right, you can select a folder and everything inside it (including sub folders) will be uploaded as is. Straight away, this makes moving your legacy file system to the online world sooooo much easier.
Secondly, assuming you are using a browser that supports HTML5 such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari, you can now drag and drop files straight into the browser window and they will upload. No dialogue boxes, no file explorer prompts, just select the collection you want to upload into and drag the file into the window. Job done.
For me this has now solved what was the only real failing within Docs and I suspect will see me moving to Docs as my PRIMARY personal document repository over the next few weeks. Even upgrading to 20GB of extra storage is only going to cost me $5 so it’s not as if space is an issue.
Full details can be found over on the Google Docs Blog
Google has a whole range of productivity tools from Gmail to Docs. Enabling you to live and work in the cloud and all for free.
If you run a business then they also offer Google Apps which gives you the same tools but for $50 per user per year you get all the clever enterprise stuff all hosted behind your own domain name. Indeed so good is it that a number of very large organisations ranging from media companies to local authorities have moves away from Microsoft Office and Exchange and are now using Google Apps.
But there is also a slimmed down version of Google Apps that is still free aimed at individuals and not for profit organisations. This allows people like me to have all the cool Google tools but use them with my own domain. So I get huge Gmail inbox but with a markroddis.com email address.
Now one of the tools Google offer is Google Docs. This gives me the ability to create letters, spread sheets and even presentations in my browser. I am also able to upload any file and store it online accessible from any PC with a browser and an internet connection.
But for a long time, there has been a problem.
If I use the free Google docs service I can pay for extra storage. Costs start at $5 for 20GB per year which seems like great value.
Likewise if I am a Google Apps Enterprise user I can purchase storage at a domain level (although it does cost a bit more at $3.50 per GB per year)
But as a Google Apps standard user I can’t have either and the standard offering only gives my 1GB of storage.
Well the good news is that Google are now allowing Google Apps users to buy extra storage at a user level and the even better news is that this is the same cost as Google Docs users
$5 USD per year
$20 USD per year
$50 USD per year
$100 USD per year
$256 USD per year
Just head over to the User Managed Storage page on Google for more info and to sign up but this is indeed great news for those small Google Apps Standard users.