Prentiss Riddle: Time

aprendiz de todo, maestro de nada

Prentiss Riddle

home art austin books
causes chuckles garden
kids language movies
music time toys travel
Search this site

Archive by date
Archive by title

Entropy, knowledge and memory

A while back Caterina blogged about her sense of her finite capacity for knowledge.

Try as one might, try as I might, that is, I cannot cram more understanding, more thinking, or more knowing into this pre-ordained or self-limited Knowosphere.

I don't really believe that my mental capacity is a zero-sum game, but I do have the sense that storage costs more than it used to. I may be mixing up two loosly connected things here, "knowledge" and "memory", that is, a set of usefully-organized information and related skills vs. a collection of experiences and the related feelings and fact(oid)s around them. But I do feel very strongly the old idea that time moves more quickly as I age.

Actually, that's misstated, too. I think a minute can be long or short whether you're 2 or 92, as in Einstein's old saw about the hot stove and the pretty girl. But the memory of time gets drastically compressed as one ages. My hunch is that that has less to do with brain capacity than with the fact that new experiences more readily make memories than old, familiar ones. I know that my ten days in Brazil last January loom much larger in my memory than the ten days before or after and the first weeks after each of my daughters was born seem like years.

If I'm right, then maybe seeking out new experiences is a way of fighting back against the time-shrinkage idea. And if memory and knowledge are more tightly connected than I think, perhaps it would work against the zero-sum Knowosphere model as well.

This all comes up because of a forthcoming book I spotted while browsing Amazon's Early Adopter Store. The book is Why Life Speeds Up As You Get Older: How Memory Shapes Our Past by Douwe Draaisma and Arno Pomerans. I hope I remember to watch for it when it comes out in October.

time 2004.06.26 link