“The Google Effect” describes how we no longer know what we know, simply because we know we can find it. We remember where to find things rather than the things themselves. We use “external memory systems,” which used to mean other people who knew things. An article in the Journal of Science describes this phenomenon:
“The Internet has become a primary form of external or transactive memory, where information is stored collectively outside ourselves.”
At work, we hoard information and documents in files we think we’ll remember because we are afraid that if we store them somewhere else we won’t be able to find them again, and we know we won’t remember everything in the documents. That’s a problem, because eventually we have to remember where we stored them. Sound familiar?
The problem is only getting worse. Every day there are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created in the world, according to a 2012 study, which also found that more than 90 percent of data in the world had been created in the prior two years.
To get a visual on what 2.5 quintillion looks like, write 2,5 on a sheet of paper and follow it with 17 zeros: 2,500,000,000,000,000,000.
Bytes make up information, and information used for our decision making is considered knowledge. If we want to be expert about anything, we have to become expert at ingesting and assimilating information about it, rapidly.
Next consider rates of change. Of course these will vary by uncountable factors; however in some databases, it’s not unusual to see 80 percent change in a single day.
At work, we obviously have a subset of all the data in the world. Considering that the vast majority of data created is unstructured, meaning it can’t be housed in a nice, neat database, we add significant complexity.
With all of this data creation, change and complexity, and as we learn about information which either finds us (push), or which we find (pull), somewhat miraculously—so are other people, each of whom may have a unique perspective on what they learn. Learning encourages new knowledge creation, often in the form of unstructured words. Again, unstructured documents are created, stored, changed.
But don’t worry, there is an answer that can help you cope. It’s called the Intranet of Everywhere, your very own transactive memory at work, which can keep you updated on changes, organize and recommend what you need to know, as well as who knows it. Your very own external memory. You won’t even need to remember where to go to find it, because it will always be with you, on whatever device and in whatever system you’re working.
How would the Intranet of Everywhere make your work-life easier?