How Google Can Facilitate Learning

Google’s mission is "to make the world’s information universally accessible and useful."

Good for Google. But implied in this statement is that the world’s information should be universally accessible and useful TO ACTUAL INDIVIDUAL HUMAN BEINGS.

This is a very important clarifier. Why? Because IF information is for the use of humans, it must be formulated and delivered in a way that aligns with the human learning system.

Here are some ideas for Google (and its competitors) to consider:

  • People store information in their heads (in their long-term memory systems).
  • People can sometimes access information in other people’s heads. For example, my wife might spontaneously remind me of some romantic moment when we first met, I might ask her a question about sustainable agriculture practices (one of her knowledge specialties) and she might tell me what she knows. Thus, there is (1) information from other’s heads that is pushed to us and (2) information that we pull from their heads as well (don’t visualize this).
  • People can store information intentionally in notes, documents, etc. Information can also be unintentionally stored. In either case, this type of storage has been referred to "external memory" by research psychologists.
  • The information in each person’s information storage system degrades with time and experience, and different items of information can degrade at different rates. This process is often called "forgetting." Forgetting is actually an adaptive mechanism because it enables us to access the information most critical to our current performances (in our day-to-day lives).
  • The internet is just one information storage system of importance to an individual person. In its present state, the internet is generally not as effective as an individual’s personal storage system. At best, it is a different type of storage system.
  • For the internet and human memory, both storage AND retrieval are critical processes.
  • Information, no matter where it is stored, can be good information or bad. It can be attached to appropriate contextualizing information or inappropriate contextualizing information.
  • We might consider the following six information storage systems as critical to an individual’s informational success:
    • their personal memory system
    • their external memory systems (intentional and unintentional)
    • the memory systems of their relatively-contiguous human associates
    • the internet
    • books, magazines, libraries (and all other formal knowledge not yet available on the internet)
    • their immediate surroundings and all the stimuli and cause-and-effect relationships inherent in that wonderful "stimulus swarm" (term heard first from the vocal vibrations of Ernie Rothkopf). Hidden in this reality, is much information, if only we have the knowledge and experience to know how to parse it and make sense of it.

What Google (and its competitors) might do given the information above:

  • Help make the internet forget (or make the retrieval system mimic forgetting)
  • Create reminding systems (or individual learning-management systems, iLMS’s) to help people maintain high-importance information in a highly-accessible (easily-retrievable) state (regardless of which storage system we’re talking about).
  • Create a methodology to help people work with all these storage systems in a manner that is synergistic.
  • Develop powerful validation systems to help people test or vet their information so they can determine how valid and relevant it is.
  • Do all this in a way that is inuitively simple and easy to use.

Did I forget to mention that I am available to brainstorm ideas for a relatively modest fee (I say modest, because we’re talking about the future of all human knowledge). I do realize that this information (that I am available for a fee) is accessible on the internet. But it is better and more useful (for everyone, but especially for me) that this information is highly accessible in your long-term memory, and that you—particularly you folks at Google—utilize that information before you forget it.