Digital Technology: Help or Hindrance? Remembering in the Twenty-first Century

Nicole Bloudoff


People are adapting to technologies such as smart phones, portable hard drives, USB keys and online repertoires that are easy to acquire and use. We access the internet from almost anywhere, as well as store documents, pictures, artwork, journals, and records on our external devices. Digital technology is useful, but is it eliminating our brain’s ability to remember? This paper will identify possible future effects of digital technologies on human memory. The switch from physical to digital records has effectively changed our attitudes towards memorabilia, causing a proliferation of massive file storage, but less file usage. Humans are experiencing unique new ambivalence where their data is safe, yet always subject to technical malfunction. Message interruption research has shown negative results regarding average memory retention. Implications for information managers are also discussed–stressing the importance of creating backup copies, as well as introducing memory retention practices to the workplace.


digital technology, memory, human memory, information in society, remembering, forgetting, memory comprehension, twenty-first century, 21st century

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