Can't remember as many telephone numbers as you used to?

It’s not just you. The difference in the ability to remember 7 digits, chunked into 3 and 4 digit chunks (123-4567) versus 10-digit chunked into 3-3-4 (123-456-7890) is HUGE! Nobody can remember phone numbers any more. This explains the panic when:

  • you can’t find your PDA, or your organizer
  • your wireless phone dies and you have to replace it and you can’t get your contacts off of the old one
  • you leave the wireless phone in the car for five minutes.

In case you are interested in this kind of thing, here are some links with more information on the subject:

  • This is from Norway, which uses different telephone number “chunking”, but has some really neat information on memory, digits and chunking.
  • Even more is here, specifically about memory and the “magic number seven“.
  • Original source material, Miller 1956, The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on our Capacity for Processing Information as html or pdf


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