Transactive memory

August 8th, 2012 § 0 comments

I was reading this op-ed in the NYTimes and came upon a new phrase (well, new in 1985) for an idea that has settled into my mind for some time now: Transactive Memory.

…when there’s a smartphone or iPad in reach, I know everything the Internet knows. Or at least, that’s how it feels.

This curious feeling of knowing has settled over most of us. In a group, someone always seems to be “checking” something in the conversation, piping up with handy facts culled from a rapid consultation with the Great and Powerful Man Behind the Curtain. I’ve attended more than one nerdy party where everyone had a link open and we were all talking about things we didn’t know until we were prompted by our conversation to look them up.

It’s the mind of mine that’s in the cloud, that I can share with other people…that I know more than is in my “meat brain”. Search is how we solve for this now – text or voice – when I decide there is a specific piece of information I want from the world. But I must *know* what I don’t know, in some sense. Predictive Transactive memory would be quite another thing. Then, we get into the idea of the Butlerization of technology – someone who is on hand, who may know what I need to know, before I know I need it.

That was a mouthful.

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