Reading Usable Help
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Gordon R. Meyer
Help as on outboard brain
A new psychology study, Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips, discusses the effect of having constant access to information. When faced with difficult questions, people are becoming primed to think about looking up the information, instead of remembering it. In the words of the authors, "the Internet has become a primary form of external or transactive memory, where information is stored collectively outside ourselves."
Perhaps the goal of documentation, then, is not to teach users how to use a product. It's to provide a resource where information can be quickly located and recalled when it is needed. This would be a subtle but important paradigm shift for many technical writers.