I Blog to Remember (Partly) – Thinking About Memory Retrieval (from The Organized Mind by Daniel Levitin)

The-Organized-Mind-CoverTwo of the key ways that we can control and improve the process are to pay special attention to the way we enter information into our memory—encoding—and the way we pull it out—retrieval.
Multitasking is the enemy of a focused attentional system. Increasingly, we demand that our attentional system try to focus on several things at once, something that it was not evolved to do.
The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel J. Levitin


We have too much to remember.

We have too much to store in our memory.

We are adding so much more each day to this massive amount of information already in our overflowing brains that things feel close to hopeless.

What to do?

Those are the kinds of questions addressed in The Organized Mind by Daniel Levitin. This is my selection for the October First Friday Book Synopsis, and like many other of my selections, I chose it partly because… I need it. Personally. I am drowning from information overload.

As I began reading through this book, I have been reminded of something I’ve come to fully understand. I blog, and to a lesser degree, I tweet, to help me remember. In other words, though I hope readers benefit from my blog posts, my blog posts are actually part of my personal information retrieval system.

Here’s a tangible example: just this past Saturday (when I was presenting my synopsis of How Children Succeed by Paul Tough at a family conference at First Methodist Church), I needed a quote from M. Scott Peck from his book The Road Less Traveled. Early in my career (when I was preaching two sermons a week), I kept a wooden file box on my desk filled with quotes that I had hand-written on 3×5 cards. That’s where this quote would have been in those earlier days.

But on Saturday, I pulled out my iPhone, Googled the key phrase, and found my blog post. Then I read the quote from my iPhone.

I write blog posts partly as my new storage system. And Google facilitates the retrieval.

In The Organized Mind, Mr. Levitin tells us that we have little trouble “encoding” these days. The information is coming at us in tidal wave amounts, pretty much constantly. It’s the “retrieval” that gives us fits.


I’m already pretty hooked by the larger context provided by this book. I’m enjoying the book.

If you have trouble “retrieving” what you need to know, it might be one to check out. And if you don’t have trouble retrieving what you need to know, well… I’m just jealous.


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