This is your brain on bits
Your Brain Is An Index. This short – and, I have to say, extremely fuzzy and generalising – essay on the way the internet is changing how we gain and use knowledge seems to somehow accurately describe the difference between my brain at 14 years old (when the internet first began to seriously enter my life as a constant presence) and my brain now, right down to the example:
I used to know Leonard Maltin's Film Guide by heart, right down to which Star Wars movies got how many stars (Episode IV and VI got ***½, while The Empire Strikes Back got ****, which never made sense to me, being the least entertaining, most whiny of the three). Now, I only know the filmographies of actors and directors I have a more than average interest in, or have followed for a long time. And I do focus more on cross-reference and making connections than on in-depth knowledge. What about you, kind reader?Here’s a personal example: As a kid film buff in the early and pre-digital age (early/mid 90s), I studied movie reference books: guides to cult films, to directors, to particular eras and critics. And I didn’t just study them, I soaked up their information. By my mid teens, I could recite actor, director, and writer filmographies, summon obscure facts about little-known cinematographers, and generally dominate in most cinema-related trivia competitions. That was the mark of an (amateur) expert. These days, it seems like I can barely remember who worked on the movie I saw last week. Why? Because I don’t have to. IMDB.com is available from any iPhone or wi-fi hotspot to instantly fulfill my desire for movie-related trivia.