Human Memory is erratic. This is usually a good thing. If we remembered everything in precise and accurate detail, then variation, imagination, and creativity would almost certainly suffer for it. Also, in most cases, we have no direct control over what we store in our memory. To make sure of things, we use repetition.
Personally, I find I have a good memory. Pause. It is, however, utterly useless for the things I actually want to remember. The dialogue of hundreds of TV programmes - no, not just Doctor Who - the plot, author, and title of a multitude of books, conversations I've had with people years upon years ago, the telephone numbers of people I may have rung once in my life, who no longer even live at the address for which the number is viable, all these things are stored within in nice, neat, uncompressed files. They occasionally pop up like internet adverts when not wanted- other than certain useful applications of a broadsword, of what relevance is the theme tune to "The Masters of the Universe" to shopping in a crowded Sainsbury's? For that matter, what relevance to anything is the punchline to a rather bad joke about sequences of questions:
"In inverse order of asking; busy, nothing, hyperspace."?
Now then, consider data which is actually of frequent use. There follows a list of my particular memory foibles. Please add your own blind spots, Wikizens, signed or initialled of course.
- Door codes- I'm all right if I can make them resemble actual credible dates, but hopeless otherwise. -- WJR
- Where I've put things. I expect a fair number of people have had to use a landline to 'phone their mobile in order to find the thing by the sound of its ring once or twice in their lives- I usually have to do so at least once a month. -- WJR Not usually mobiles in my case, but I know the feeling; brief panic followed by extreme sheepishness --TL
- Names and faces. I find people's faces gradually turn into Japanese anime exaggerated cartoons of themselves in my memory after time. Even people I know really well can give me considerable pause for thought by changing their hairstyle or style of dress. If I see my housemates in the street I usually have to think twice. -- WJR Tell me about it: I have, most of the time, a memory for faces that would be the envy of a biometrics system, but unless I know them well enough even putting one name to them is an effort. Even then, if people I have met have similar faces I can quite easily mistake one for another, and have done --TL I am really, really bad with faces, unless the person is distinctive-looking or I see them every day (at work). However, I am excellent at remembering people's history and the trivia of their lives.--SDN
- What day it is. All right, don't laugh. Some might suggest this is due to an unstructured life. Some might be right. None the less, my pet brain seems to consider this information likely to be wanted far less often than, say, the colour of the covers of various books on my bookshelf. -- WJR
- On a related subject, dates and times for an appointment. Thank Gods for Filofaxes. If one remembers to use them at the time... :-/ --TL
- Emotions. Left to myself I may well suddenly find myself trying to remember whether I was happy, unhappy, or annoyed a minute ago. -- WJR
- Computer Keyboards. I have two computers on one desk. Their keyboards do not even remotely resemble one another. One keyboard is in fact the front end of a large Canon Starwriter. Such differences would, one might think, prevent me from happily typing away on this Starwriter keyboard and becoming frustrated and bewildered when my words of wisdom do not appear on the screen of my PC. -- WJR
- Not to trust British Snailways. See Inadequate Investment. I keep catching trains and thinking they might get where they're supposed to go. -- WJR
- "Forgive me, have we met before?" "The recognition of friends is not always easy." -- WJR, with apologies to Robert Sloman and Barry Letts.
- Movie and TV dialogue. My boyfriend can rattle this off like anything and I look at him blankly.--SDN
If you think this is all very strange, look at Micro Soft's answer to it all --TL
You know, call me a Luddite if you want, but even after all my complaints about this lump of cold grey porridge, I'd still rather live with it than trust my memories to the company that brought us Windows.
"Your brain has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down." -- WJR Indeed --TL
Compare to Human Speech.