A new study that says Google is changing our brain through a sort of Google Effect of amnesia is no big surprise.
Of course it is.
In the past decade, we've learned that when we need information, there's one quick and easy source to turn to -- that simple bar of open, endless possibility -- Google.
We're not thoughtless empty-headed people who don't have memories anymore, says psychologist Betsy Sparrow of Columbia University, who led a team on the study, published in the journal Science. But we are becoming particularly adept at remembering where to go to find things. And that's kind of amazing.
Back in the day, before Google, I found things in the handful of daily newspapers that arrived at my home, and through the occasional research trip to the library. If editorial mediation kept information away from me, I often did not know it. In recent years, though, I've visited Google as many as 100 times per day or more, searching for information, and finding a wide and varied swath to choose from.
Some of it is valued, and some of it is not. But a discerning searcher knows where to turn. Often, it's to the very same newspapers showing up in search that I used to read after they arrived at my doorstep. Often, it's also from many other blogs and publications from throughout the world that end up on the Web.
The end result is much more information, from many more sources, each and every day.
Oddly, it all comes through one portal -- Google -- but it's diversified and varied beyond anything I could have imagined before.
Sometimes I feel bad about relying so heavily on that one thing, Google's bar of possibility, to find my information. But I did not write that story, I'm merely living with the best option of the day.
Just as I lived with the best option of the day before.
I also must admit that while I'm a perfect example of the study's finding, that my brain has adapted to The Google Effect, telling me where to go for information, I'm also smarter and wiser from the experience.
Maybe that's because I did not have enough information before. Or, maybe it's because I've long worked in the news business, requiring me to gather and devour lots of information to keep up in the 21st century.
But sometimes these Google days I'm amazed at all I've gathered an digested on the hour from that bar of possibility, Google.
The search bar gets no credit for creation of the material. And that's a good thing. But the portal is a vital conduit to that.
Those who make the argument that Google and other web portals are dumbing down society are completely wrong, in my case at least. The study is right, in that Google has changed how my brain operates, in that if I need information, I often go first to that source as a gateway, deciding from there what's valid or not according to my personal criteria.
One thing is certain, though: I'm now gathering six to eight times the amount of information that I used to take in each day before Google's bar of possibility became a reality. In that regard, I'm more diversified in knowledge about what is happening in the busy world around me.
I'm smarter from the experience. Time will tell, of course, if ultimately I'm also wiser from The Google Effect.