Cites/Links vs. Memory

Having become a huge fan of the internet as a source of all sorts of information, I’ve begun to wonder if the days of the reference book are numbered. Until the mid-90’s when we got into the www I was a big fan of those books with trivial facts and odd tidbits of weird data. I suppose I have a collection of at least thirty of those things, probably more.

Nowadays, it appears that the most authoritative one can be is to produce a cite or link to some webpage where some noted person has declaimed the truth about something. Having something appear on the internet is tantamount to its being in Holy Scripture. And yet we know there are probably at least as many websites that traffic in total hogwash as there are those that have standards of veracity.

My basic question is this: if the web were to go up in a poof of smoke how much of the stuff you know how to locate on the web would be forever unavailable to your memory?

Said a bit differently: now that you know how to locate stuff on the web do you even bother trying to remember it?

Do you also own reference books like encyclopedias or thesauri or dictionaries? If so, do you try to keep it/them up to date?

My father once said: “The next best thing to knowing is knowing where to find.”

To my way of seeing things these days, that saying may have become reversed in its real priorities.

Your take?

Somehow I recall a lot of stuff without even trying or wanting to do so.

Yes. May favorite item is a little Franklin Bookman. It has a dictionary and thesaurus, as well as a few games like hangman.

Papa was a rolling stone. I mean, Papa was/is right! I personally am a good researcher with or sans le Internet.


Thanks, Violet, for the reply.

I was afraid this thread was going to be like so many others I’ve started and just pass into oblivion without even being viewed.

To me this issue has several ramifications.

One is that a “cite” seems to do it for some people in that once there’s a website that says something about the issue at hand, it’s pretty well solved. I find this unsettling if not frightening.

I just hope a few others, especially those who are so adept at locating websites on even the most arcane of subjects, will share their own views on the validity of having other people’s words to stand for one’s own.

In it’s most laughable form, the refutation of things written in the Bible by some other website’s scribe seems almost to the level of hubris to me. But then, many things strike me that way, and I would like to hear the reasoning behind taken one version over another, when all you have is someone’s written opinion.

What if everything was just one big Urban Legend and we didn’t know anything! Would that be a joke, or what?

The Internet is a weird place to do research. Popular magazines and University sites are pretty much all I’ll trust. If the Internet disappeared, my research reports would just be less worldly. The Internet is mostly entertainment for me. And how!

In recent years I often find myself prefacing many statements with, “I read this on the Internet.” I don’t tell myself ahead of time to remember things, I just happen to retain a lot of facts after I look them up or just happen to come across them.

If the Internet suddenly ceased to exist I’d be lost. Actually, I’d likely adapt to getting by without it as I had for the first 25 years of my life, but as I have come to depend on the Internet, it would be very difficult for me to go back to doing things the old-fashioned way.

I don’t use my printed dictionary as much anymore, and it’s been years since I’ve cracked open an encyclopedia. All kinds of little facts that I was once curious about but knew I could never easily get an answer, can now be looked up with a quick Google search.

Still, there are many people who don’t use a computer and never will, so I think we will have reference books for awhile.