PLEASE NOTE:

MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24.com. The stories here come from users.

 
Robert Andrew
 
Comments: 7
Article views: 382
 
 
Latest Badges:


 
View all Robert Andrew's badges.
 

Thoughts vs data

19 February 2014, 19:30

Steven Rose, in The Making of Memory, describes how many ancient philosophers were dubious about having a written culture. They claimed that writing was inhuman-it depersonalised thoughts and weakened the mind. Socrates even argued that writing destroys memory and those who write will become forgetful since they have to rely on external sources for what they lack in internal resources. Many people will undoubtedly disagree with Socrates and will quote all the literary masterpieces, ancient and modern, which passed on wonderful insights and intimate knowledge of the thoughts and ideas of their writers.

Great scientists too, like Albert Einstein, who communicated very complex thoughts by writing, certainly cannot be accused of being forgetful and lacking internal resources.

 And yet, do these apparent beliefs of the ancient philosophers not strike a cord with many of us, especially those of us who work for large corporations where everything has to be written down in endless memos, reports, emails, notes, etc., and where the spoken word has become secondary to the written one?

Are our executives not becoming depersonalised, and possibly inhuman, as a result of having to write everything down, be it in a notebook, a laptop computer or on an IPad? Even with all the Facebook ‘Like’ and messages and ongoing Tweets, and all manner of digital To-Do apps and diaries, why is it that so many of us are still late for meetings or appointments, or forget to do things. Why it with is so much available gadgetry for helping us do things and for reminding us when stuff has to be done, do we still so often hear the excuse: “I forgot”?

 Without delving too deeply into the psychology of thought or the physiology of the brain, let us for a moment dwell on whether writing something down improves memory. Most memory-enhancing courses recommend that pictures or symbols are better than words when preparing for a speech or a lecture. PowerPoint slides with pictures seem to be more powerful than those with just bullet points. Words on their own seem difficult to remember whereas graphics are more easily absorbed by the brain.

Why is this? Is it perhaps because the brain works more with thoughts and meanings and is unlike a computer which works with data? Pictures and symbols carry with them personally interpreted thoughts, whereas words, or sentences, are more rigid in their interpretation, although they can be subject to free thought word association. Words and data are facts with rigid meanings and are difficult to translate into thoughts. As a result the brain has difficulty in remembering them.

Mark Twain once said: “A man’s private thoughts can never be a lie; what he thinks, is to him the truth, always.” We are more easily able to forget facts than our thoughts. From here can we not deduce that written facts will be more easily forgotten than our own special thoughts, and they are all uniquely special for us as individuals?  So perhaps Socrates and his colleagues may have been right.

One of the problems psychologists have in the measurement of memory is that each time we remember we transform our memories; the human memory is not like that of a computer, called up from store, consulted and replaced unmodified. It’s almost as if the memory is recreated each time we have to remember. Our thoughts are also transformed by our environment, which again is very unlike the memory of a computer.

Spare a thought for one Shereskevskii (he was mostly called Mr.S because nobody could remember his name) who had a major problem; he could not forget. Psychologists who studied him found that he translated all inputs into his brain in the form of intricate pictures and stories. All past memories kept intruding on fresh ones.

But let’s get back to our corporate obsession with written documents. What we are writing to each other all day are mostly facts and data which may be very important but which are difficult to remember. Perhaps we should rather communicate thoughts and meanings. Ricardo Semmler at Semco (Maverick) has obtained amazing results by asking all staff to write only ‘headline’ memos. The full meaning, not the facts and data, is thus communicated.

An engineer in his organisation who invents and develops a new machine does not have to write an endless report to communicate and justify his idea: he simply sends the boss a memo stating’ “New Cost Effective Gismo Invented-It Works!” Those who want to see how it was developed can ask him. There is also little doubt that we should use the spoken word more. Socrates believed that when we speak to each other we communicate our thoughts and our meanings of things.

In this way we enrich not only our own minds but also those that listen to us. Quoting Mark Twain again: “Life does not consist of facts and happenings. It consists of the storm of thoughts that is forever blowing though one’s heads.”

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.
 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
7 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Read more from our Users

Africa must break from negative n...

Despite decades of conflict, death and tragedy, coverage of issues in Africa has often been ignored, oversimplified, or excessively focused on limited aspects. Read more...

0 comments 121 views
Submitted by
Amaps
Let the Chuch be the help to the ...

So disappointing how the "church" which claims to be the body of Christ, its not as it should be, its operated like a corporate company. Read more...

19 comments 222 views
Submitted by
MarkH
South Africa: The reality show

I see a tendency – just love that word – developing lately of the regime – another old favourite – to spread far and wide as much confusion as possible, all involving spending my money, of course. Read more...

3 comments 155 views
Submitted by
SkerP
Memories of 2 February 1990

This year marks a quarter century since I matriculated. And, obviously, the same time has elapsed since the unbanning of the ANC. Read more...

5 comments 975 views
Submitted by
MarkH
Civil war vs civil disturbance

I wrote this article after considering responses to an article on News24 yesterday, also the “attack” on the Bedford Gardens shopping mall, when I found myself pondering the differences between civil disturbance and civil war, and naturally the implications of both. Read more...

2 comments 343 views
Submitted by
Kalos eidos
Yes, there is a global agenda to ...

These words form the motto, mind- set, and goal of the world’s elite humanists, their establishment puppets and their rank and file useful idiots.  Read more...

39 comments 909 views

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Valentine’s Day gifts – 14 Feb!

Gifts to spoil him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

Games on Sale!

Save up to 60% on selected games. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off All Textbooks

Save up to 30% off an extensive range of prescribed textbooks for all major universities and FET colleges. Shop Now!

Save up to 40% on outdoor accessories!

Tents, sleeping, day packs and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off fragrances

Get 30% off fragrances for him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

 

services

E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on your iPhone Get News24 headlines on your iPhone.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

Blogs Your opinion on you, me and everyone.

Calais Website keywords automated by OpenCalais.

 
Interactive Advertising Bureau
 
© 2015 24.com. All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.