Saturday, October 27, 2007

Externalize Yourself Four

Remember how I said, "my external memory was working fine; it's only my internal memory that needs an upgrade"?

(I copied and pasted the text to make sure I got it right, by the way.)

Here's another example.

After spending time on Twitter, I went to Google Reader and ended up reading a mobile-formatted copy of this post from Pastor Kevin Austin. After talking about a door offering that will be taken tomorrow for the fire victims, Pastor Kevin proceeded as follows:

I also wanted to give you the sermon text for Sunday so that you could spend some time on it before Sunday. It is a wonderful text with a lot of great stuff in there. Chew on it for a while.

He then quoted from the ESV translation for 2 Corinthians 5:11-21.

This prompted something in my head, because I would need to be reading those verses tomorrow. I generally am the scripture reader (except for the Gospel) once a month, and tomorrow is my day.

So first, I tweeted the reference so I wouldn't forget it.

Then (after my previous tweets on the entire subject of externalizing your memory) I tweeted the following:

must go 2 external memory (my tweets) to find ot verse

(I should clarify that "ot" stands for "Old Testament" in the tweet above.)

So, why did I write this? Because I vaguely remembered that earlier in the week, after this Sunday's reading had been e-mailed to me, I had written a tweet that noted the two verses that I needed to read on Sunday.

So, as promised, I went to my archive to look for the relevant tweet.

I couldn't find it. I looked all the way back to October 22, and couldn't find it.

Just a few minutes ago I checked again (from the computer this time) and still couldn't find it.

This raised the following question - if I didn't store the information in my Twitter slice of external memory, did I store it in some other portion of external memory?

I knew that I still had the original message in my personal e-mail account, but I remembered WRITING the information somewhere.

So I checked another, more low-tech slice of external memory - my log book. It wasn't there either.

As of now, I STILL haven't figured out where I might have stored that information. I'm still sure that I wrote it somewhere...well, pretty sure.

And remember how I said that I had the information in an original message in my personal e-mail account? Well, I just found that the trash can. I speedily took it out of the trash and put it back in my inbox.

For the record, the verse is Revelation 14:6-7 from the NIV.

This whole episode, and all of the previous episodes, illustrates something about all of this memory outsourcing.

When I first read the article, the thing that worried me about this use of outsourcing was the following:

what if our external memories crash?

I figured that the external system - Twitter, the iPhone, whatever - was the weak link in our use of external memory to store stuff.

What I should have realized is that the weak link is the operator him/herself. Look at all of the things that I did this morning:

  • I employed external memory for some items, but not for others (e.g. the exact statistic from Wired, which I ended up garbling.

  • Even when I employed external memory, I didn't reference it (e.g. the time when I thought I had referred to a single day, but had actually referred to 1+ days).

  • In one case (the "Old Testament" verse that ended up being from Revelation), I wasn't sure (and STILL am not sure) what external memory device was used to store the information.

  • I even used my backups improperly (throwing the original e-mail with the verses into the trash.
So now that we've developed ways to external our memory, how do we develop ways to manage ourselves?


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