The solution to most problems is a Google away. These days you can learn almost anything online. Pretty much any solution is a quick click away. You may even find a step-by-step guide on Youtube that details exactly how to solve your problem. Even the exams we take after we finish are open books.
Now think for a second. How many of your friends and family’s phone numbers do you know by heart? A couple? Probably less than ten. There’s no reason to memorize more than a few anymore.
We’ve been off-loading knowledge work to our phones. This also works with people. Couples who have been married together for a while will have difficulty remembering events that they went together in the past. The details of the events. Yet, if you ask about the event when they are both together. They will fill in each other’s memory blanks.
Our brains are lazy or efficient depending on how you look at it. They only store facts and memories that it thinks it’ll need in the future. It’ll archive or get rid of the rest.
So what do you do if you’ve forgotten something? Or never learned it in the first place?
Learn to Google
Think when you want someone to search the internet for something, what do you tell them to do? Google it? Google is such a part of our culture that it encapsulates all internet searches.
I can’t tell you how often I’m able to find a solution to a problem I have at home or at work with a quick Google. Car showing a dashboard light? Google. Need to check the adverse effects of a medication? Google.
There is an art and skill to internet searches and it boils down to two factors:
1. Your initial search phrase
2. Picking the right result
The initial search phrase is made up of the words that you put into Google. If you were to put, car engine dash light you’ll get millions of results. While if you put: “Honda Accord 2012 yellow wheel dashboard button meaning”, you’ll have a much higher chance of getting the correct answer in the first few posts.
The more specific you are the better. I try to be as specific as I can and only be more generic if I don’t get many results. You also want to use words that are in the same domain as your problem. For example, if the icon on the dashboard in my car is a tire or wheel, I’d have much better results than if I typed in a yellow circle. Or a round thing.
Next, and as important is to pick the right result. Depending on what the problem is I’ll try to point it towards a certain direction. For simple things such as household or car issues, I’ll add the word forum. Or I’ll look for forum results. Forums are small communities usually of enthusiasts that help each other. I’d find the problem with my car on some type of Honda forum. Instead of looking for the forum directly, if I type my search into Google, It will look through many forums for me.
Now, instead, if I’m looking or a medical question then a forum won’t do. So I’ll add Google Scholar to the search phrase and be much more careful with the type of result that I pick. Often times, Google is even better than the search features on a website. So you’d be better off typing your search into google and adding the name of the website to your search phrase.
Of course, not everything is on Google. I won’t be able to find an exhaustive list of treatments for a rare disease for example. However, if I was able to just find a case report or two through Google. That’s enough. Then I’d be able to look at the references in that case report and be able to find more substantial research. I’ve saved countless hours using Google to start my medical research search than starting off with Pubmed.
Instead, had I gone to the library and tried to find the articles I needed, I could have been there all day and still not found what I needed. The power of Google and internet searches, in general, make learning how to use it by far one of the most important skills we have.