Throughout history, curmudgeonly scholars have argued that information technology makes people more stupid. Socrates complained that the written word would lead to forgetfulness, and bookmakers of the Renaissance feared the printing press would lead to a loss of studiousness as cheap books fell into the hands of the unworthy. Recently, journalists and scientists have made similar claims about the Internet in general and search engines in particular. After all, why learn something when you can just look it up?
Now researchers have tested this notion through a number of experiments that probe the relationship between memory and the Internet. The results imply that people have shifted from remembering specific facts to remembering where on the Internet they can go to find those facts.