Scott Adams Blog: Exobrain

| June 26, 2010

An interesting notion of our built environment as an extension of our brain. I find it both compelling and odd. Compelling because it breaths life into things that appear static while pointing to the relations that exist between us and our “stuff”. Odd because, well, what do we know of our brains? Is this really how we experience things? Are brains the synecdochal site for ourselves? Or our true selves, brains in vats, extending our reach to a body and then to the world?

At the very least this approach would ask us to rethink what the function of memory and storage is.

I’m fascinated by the phenomenon of manipulating our environment to extend our brains. I suppose it all started with early humans carving on cave walls as a way to store historical data. Now we have ebooks, computers, and cell phones to store our memories. And we have schools to program our brains. But it goes much deeper than that. Even a house is a device for storing data. Specifically, a house stores data on how it was built. A skilled builder can study a house and build another just like it.Everything we create becomes a de facto data storage device and brain accessory. A wall can be a physical storage device for land survey data, it can be a reminder of history, and it can be a trigger of personal memories.A business is also a way to store data. As a restaurant owner, I was fascinated at how employees came and went, but their best ideas often stayed with the business, especially in the kitchen. The restaurant was like a giant data filter. The bad ideas were tested and deleted while the good ideas stayed, most often without being written down.

via Scott Adams Blog: Exobrain 06/23/2010.