I have observed that Everything2 has been having strange effects on my memory
- to wit, that I have been using it as an extra brain for storage
. When I am at a terminal, I can pull out memories and details thereof which I simply can't remember
in terrible clarity when I'm just dealing with what nature provided for me. Memories which I was able to invoke at a moment's notice before I discovered the site are now, having been committed to the database, growing fuzzy and nebulous in my mind
; I feel I don't need
to remember because I can always look it up, and thus I don't. For instance: instead of memorizing entire poems or even specific lines from them, I now only memorize the titles. In a similar vein, I'm not recalling information so much as keeping a mental index of what the node name is wherein the information can be located. Eventually Everything will be the storage device and my brain only the index - home only to a metamemory
Of course, an equation between memory and intelligence is very shady indeed, so I may delve a bit further to justify this write-up's placement under this node. I believe that Everything2 has made me more well-read, as since its arrival I have begun closely reading large and seemingly capital-I-Important e-texts to prepare them for distribution to the masses herein, texts I may well not have had the patience to read were it just for my own enlightenment. I suffer myself to boring texts that one of you might find use or interest in them! Again, I think that e2 is resulting in my having read more (and more carefully, in formatting and linking) from The Great Texts of Civilization, but that does not equate directly to intelligence.
Actually, I'm not even clear what I understand intelligence to be. How would I define it? I could pursue the assertions of others in intelligence, but it's not clear that I would get a strong personal feel for the concept through the gestalt thinks of our unwashed messes.
Before I entered e2 I would no doubt have been able to articulate a strong personal view of what constituted intelligence and what affected it. Now I find myself questioning any personal belief pending further research.
The question is, has this new and constant deliberation made me more or less intelligent?
Note: I don't know how useful whizkid's deconstruction of "intelligence"'s roots is, but I like it and believe that my tenure here on the database has only increased my already-prodigious capacity for drawing connections between scattered, disparate and wholly unrelated elements and artifacts of thought and existence.
Socrates. At the Egyptian city of Naucratis, there was a famous old god, whose name was Theuth; the bird which is called the Ibis is sacred to him, and he was the inventor of many arts, such as arithmetic and calculation and geometry and astronomy and draughts and dice, but his great discovery was the use of letters. Now in those days the god Thamus was the king of the whole country of Egypt; and he dwelt in that great city of Upper Egypt which the Hellenes call Egyptian Thebes, and the god himself is called by them Ammon. To him came Theuth and showed his inventions, desiring that the other Egyptians might be allowed to have the benefit of them he enumerated them, and Thamus enquired about their several uses, and praised some of them and censured others, as he approved or disapproved of them. It would take a long time to repeat all that Thamus said to Theuth in praise or blame of the various arts. But when they came to letters, This, said Theuth, will make the Egyptians wiser and give them better memories; it is a specific both for the memory and for the wit. Thamus replied: O most ingenious Theuth, the parent or inventor of an art is not always the best judge of the utility or inutility of his own inventions to the users of them. And in this instance, you who are the father of letters, from a paternal love of your own children have been led to attribute to them a quality which they cannot have; for this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.