Memory and hypertext 2

[Added November 1997]
Someone says that hypertext on Internet will make human memory obsolete.
In future we will go around carrying a device connected to Internet
where we will be able to find all the information we need. The human
memory ,no more needed, will atrophy.

Well ,my opinion is different. Web hypertext will make human memory
more used and more strong. I have a personal experience about this.

I am a steady moviegoer and ,having seen thousands of films (I am 50 years
old), I know by heart hundreds of actors,directors and other people
connected to cinema. Since some year my memory is showing the usual effect
of aging:the names of many of these people were lost. I could still
recollect the face, the movie scene but the name was gone. I have so
decided to relearn them again using the Web. When I find some new lost name
I will start searching the Web for it and surf sometime .
After that I notice that I am able for many hours afterward to remember
the name (I suppose because of the short memory mechanism). Than thinking
about it I will invent some links that will help the long term recollection
of the name.

Just to make an example: let’s consider the director Ridley
Scott. After surfing the Web I have no problems in the following hours to
remember his name. Then I note that he has the same name as the actor
George C. Scott (which I remember very well because of the film Patton):so
this is the first link. Considering now Ridley I note that it is similar
to Riddle and Ridley Scott loves riddles in his films:so this
is the second link used for long term memory. Note that the Web surfing was
essential in establishing these links.

In this way,I am relearning again
all the names. The learning is further improved by writing a web page about movies. This is used to help my surfing but also my
learning. Having written,for example, in this page that Rowan Atkinson
is one of my preferred comedians it is a lot more difficult that I will
forget the name of Ms. Bean impersonator.

Another example of this use of the Web is this
Diary of found again words
(in Italian). Through a link to a table of
search engines I can help my memory surfing the net material about the
lost and found again word.

Memory and hypertext

[Updated May 1997]
The advice to a student on tricks to improve
learning of school material, is the occasion to speak on the fact that
hypertext writing will help the recollection since you are now using also
spatial memory(hypertext is like a building with hyperlinks acting as
doors to new pages).
There is a fascinating history concerning the
links between memory and the Web(i.e. internet hypertext). This is
reported from Time in an interview to Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of the
Web, in the May 19,1997 issue. Tim has problems remembering people’s
names or faces, so he wrote a computer program based on hypertext to
help him remember. Later he extended his system to Internet inventing
the Web. So we may say that the Web has been created to serve as
a memory substitute for people having problems remembering!

Also Ted Nelson, who is considered the inventor of hypertext,
started to think about this new concept, out of the personal
problem of keeping track of his huge stream of ideas. This was in the
early 1960 and he has worked since then on hypertext with his famous
Xanadu project.Only Tim Berners Lee by connecting the hypertext
with Internet would make Nelson dream true. You can read about the
wonderful story of Nelson in this chapter of a book by Howard Rheingold.