‘Hey Alexa, what did I forget?’: networked devices, internet search and the delegation of human memory

Paul Atkinson, Richie Barker

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    This article examines how we increasingly delegate the task of memorisation to networked devices and associated applications, such as Google search. Human memory is supplemented by the proliferation of voice assistants embedded in mobile, wearable and situated devices that provide ready access to common knowledge as well as reminders for procedural tasks. Previous research in the field of transactive memory, investigating how search engines and networked information discourage memorisation, underpins the examination of these emergent technologies. However, the article extends the argument further by examining not just access to information but when it is interpolated into everyday activity and how this is facilitated by voice interfaces. At stake is deciding which aspects of our networked technology should be developed in order to support rather than supplant human memory in conscious decision-making.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)52-65
    Number of pages14
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021


    • Internet search
    • memorisation
    • procedural knowledge
    • transactive memory
    • voice assistants

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