In an Emergency, Will You Know Your Friends’ and Family’s Phone Numbers?

In the age of the smartphone and dialing by touchscreen, few of us can tick off our loved ones’ numbers on command. ... This has less to do with the faulty memories of modern man than the absence of any day-to-day need to dial by number. As memory champ and Moonwalking with Einstein author Joshua Foer writes, “Once I’d reached the point where I could squirrel away more than 30 digits a minute in memory palaces, I still only sporadically used the techniques to memorize the phone numbers of people I actually wanted to call.

In the age of the smartphone and dialing by touchscreen, few of us can tick off our loved ones’ numbers on command. (I do, thankfully, remember my parents’ home number, which I’ve dialed thousands upon thousands of times in 30 years.) This has less to do with the faulty memories of modern man than the absence of any day-to-day need to dial by number. As memory champ and Moonwalking with Einstein author Joshua Foer writes, “Once I’d reached the point where I could squirrel away more than 30 digits a minute in memory palaces, I still only sporadically used the techniques to memorize the phone numbers of people I actually wanted to call. I found it was just too simple to punch them into my cell phone.”

[From In an Emergency, Will You Know Your Friends’ and Family’s Phone Numbers?]