“I guess a blog is a remembrance engine,” noted John Johnston. I mentioned this yesterday, suggesting that it’s like “the commonplace book, except that through the magic of the hyperlink” these remembrances “become intertwined”. Enter a passage from The Human Swarm by Mark W. Moffett.
Early humans may have innovated little because they were few. Cultural elaboration takes an ample population. Despite my earlier assertions about the self-reliance of hunter-gatherers, recollection of how to do things wasn’t entirely stored in each person’s head. We constantly remind each other about everything imaginable. The responsibility for remembering is distributed across everyone—call it a collective memory. Lacking books or Internet, our ancestors relied on each other. The more they communicated, the less they forgot, reducing the onus on each person to know how to accomplish each task down to the last detail. Human learning is imperfect and skills can deteriorate over time. With enough people in contact, however, collective memories can extend widely and efficiently, not just from band to band but across societies that learn from their neighbors.
Life in the time of the blog and the hyperlink: same as it ever was, just now it’s written down and interconnected, for remembering and for reference. “We constantly remind each other about everything imaginable.”