Friday, 31 October 2014

09:06 – I’m playing around with a $25 Sony digital voice recorder I just received from Amazon, trying to develop the habit of taking notes with it as an aid to my failing memory. At age 61, developing a new habit is difficult.

I tried doing this 10 or 15 years ago with an Olympus digital voice recorder, but I was never able to get the habit established. That’s because for the first 35 years of my life I could depend absolutely on my memory. I never had a phone/address book, because I never needed one. I never took any notes in school from kindergarten through grad school, because I never needed to. Then one day when I was 35 I had a new experience. I realized that I’d forgotten something. I had to look up a phone number that I should have remembered. That was disturbing to say the least.

Over the last 25 years, it’s gotten worse. The problem is all with short/medium-term memory. I still remember, for example, the phone number of Connie Stewart, a girl I called one time when I was in sixth grade. But I find myself losing track of short-term stuff. For example, as I’m writing I may decide to look something up on Wikipedia. So I start Firefox, which brings up this page. There are new comments, so I read them. I then close the browser, having forgotten not just what I wanted to look up on Wikipedia, but even that I’d intended to look something up on Wikipedia.

But old habits die hard, and my habit of never writing anything down was established over 35 years of my life so it will take a concerted effort to develop the new habit of using the DVR to make notes to myself. I suppose I shouldn’t complain. As bad as I think my memory is now, it’s still probably in the 99.9th percentile, not just for people my age but overall.