Sauerberg: Yes, but if you take a look at things before the parentheses, people had to keep all those things in their heads. Within the parenthesis, you have books, you can put all of your memories up on shelves. It was easily recognizable and accessible and you know exactly where it is on the shelf. Now you put everything into the computer. I’ve spent most of this morning looking for exact texts from seven years ago, that I hope to be able to recycle and find them. They are somewhere in there. I have to use my own head as the sort of control and I find that, increasingly so, that I have to keep a personal touch on what I need because I cannot rely on the computer because everything goes into it. It’s far too plentiful.

DS: But isn’t the reason that Google is the largest corporation in the face of the earth precisely because of its ability to perform searches just like the one you’re talking about and if you couldn’t find it, someone with a greater technical expertise could? And we’re talking about authority at this point.

Sauerberg: But I need to know what to look for exactly, which means I would have to use my head in the first place.

DS: I wish I could be as comfortable that everything we’re doing now. For instance, this machine [the voice recorder], it changes the whole story, right? Say this was a live feed…

Pettitt: We’d have to worry about it for about four years.

DS: You’d have to worry about it for at least four years.

Pettitt: Yeah, and then after that it would disappear. There’d be so much stuff around, it would disappear. Google only goes for the stuff with plenty of links. Or all the links would be broken.

Sauerberg: That we would have to rely on memory.

Pettitt: And we would claim that it’s been manipulated. That’s the other point.

DS: And so you’re rejecting the idea of the Internet as a container?

Pettitt: Yes, I do. It’s a network.

DS: And the computer file is not a container?

Dean Starkman Dean Starkman runs The Audit, CJR's business section, and is the author of The Watchdog That Didn't Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism (Columbia University Press, January 2014).

Follow Dean on Twitter: @deanstarkman.