With a group of friends we have a habit of going to a pub quiz on Wednesday evenings. We’ve been going on a semi-regular phase for almost a year, and have proudly held on tight to our “second-to-last” spot.
The pub quiz, which is always created by a different person but from the usual crowd, has been a very useful exercise into looking at the topics of knowledge and memory. It hasn’t been surprising that the top-performing groups are always present, and of older age. Smart people who lived for much longer without internet in their pockets. It’s also interesting to notice how different things we all remember.
As the crowd remains pretty much the same each week, the quiz topics tend to remain of similar style as well. Australians and British dominate the audience, which gears the common knowledge questions towards those relevant to their countries. US and India are following, with the occasional Singapore slings as is the common factor for all of us.
Such a global quiz showcases pretty well how common knowledge isn’t same everywhere. We get taught different things in different countries and at different types.
For me the biggest lesson from the quiz has been the recognition of how much we rely on google and mobile memories. We don’t have to remember anything anymore, as all the information is stored in the clouds, accessible by our mobile devices. It’s a huge change from the times which I also still remember, when we actually had to use our own memory for information storage.
I used to think I have a good level of common knowledge. But the pub quiz has shown me that my memory, or my ability to dig information out from my memory, is starting to fail. “I know this but can’t remember” has become a common line for me in the quiz, and that worries me. I know I know it but just can’t remember. Which could be formulated as “I used to know this”. It’s things I’ve learned and which I know I should be able to recall, but find myself unable to activate.
Since we started carrying smart phones around and having unlimited internet access, there’s much less need to use our own memory anymore. And memory is a skill or organ that needs regular usage and practise to remain in good shape.
I know I need to practise my memory more, both in storing information into my memory but also using it – practising the practice of digging out information from my own memory first, instead of reaching out to google. It’s time to break the cycle of relying on internet and devices for storing our knowledge. That’s what pub quiz has thought me and for what it keeps providing a useful tool.