Thirty years ago Daniel Wegner proposed the concept of transactive memory which Wikipedia defines as:
a mechanism through which groups collectively encode, store, and retrieve knowledgeAlthough that same Wikipedia entry notes that this is different from distributed cognition because as opposed to distributed cognition where a "complete" understanding of a certain body of knowledge is spread out between various members of a group, transactive memory:
describes a situation where individuals hold different knowledge compared to shared information, and members of the group engage in transactions to assist in recall of the stored informationIn other words, if I correctly understand the distinction, with transactive memory different members of the group are capable of helping others retrieve what they may be looking for.
They were, in a sense, Googling each other.A bit later he explains:
And as it turns out, this is what we’re doing with Google and Evernote and our other digital tools. We’re treating them like crazily memorious friends who are usually ready at hand. Our “intimate dyad” now includes a silicon brain.In my mail I'll sometimes find something via a label I've created, and sometimes I'll run a search for a particular word or term that I expect shows up in what I'm looking for. Friends also function as labels. I can usually find a particular item I'm looking for by determining with whom I might have shared, or discussed, it.