Remembering names

Nobody seems to remember phone numbers anymore. After all, why would they?

Back when I was a kid, in an era before phones had gone mobile, we all kept long lists of phone numbers in our heads. Sure, you could write down a phone number. But for people you knew it was more convenient just to memorize seven digits (the area code was usually easy).

With that knowledge in your head you could dial them from anywhere, on any phone that happened to be nearby. We didn’t think of this memorization as a chore. It was something we just took for granted, built into the fabric of “the way things are”, like remembering somebody’s name.

Speaking of which, after we enter the age of wearables, we won’t need to remember peoples’ names anymore. Just today I greeted a colleague, somebody I see all the time at conferences. We gave each other a big hug, and were genuinely glad to see each other. Except I couldn’t remember his name.

It didn’t really matter in that situation. On a social level, you only really need to remember somebody’s name when you are introducing them to a third person. Still, it would have been nice, and I found it somewhat distressing that the name of somebody I know and have liked for many years had managed to elude me.

But once we are all “wearing”, there won’t be any need for such a skill. The ability to keep peoples’ names in your head will come to be seen as one of those arcane skills, like typesetting with metal fonts or tying a proper cravat, which belong to a bygone age.

One thought on “Remembering names”

  1. I used to have my credit card number memorized. It was incredibly convenient to, say, order a pizza by just picking up the phone and recite the number for payment.

    Unfortunately, databases holding the card are now hacked so frequently the bank replaces the number 3-5 times a year. It’s no longer worth the effort to memorize.

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