Google Chrome

What’s Google good for?

Need to know the latest headline news? The weather in Boca Raton? A quick answer to a simple question, like: “Hey, who won the Best Actor Oscar in 1997?”

Need a picture of someone famous to put in your post? You’ll find it on Google, no problem. Need a portrait of an actor or politician? Need a painting of a giant cockroach cooking dinner? Google it! Google will give you lots of choices, a few of which are presumably not copyright infringements.

Need to get some information about an obscure medical condition? Want to know which hospital has the most up-to-date treatment for it? Google may have the answer. It’s not a substitute for a diagnosis, but it’s a jumping off place. Want to know the side effects of your new medication? Google will to give you more information than you really wanted. You probably won’t like most of it.

What else is Google good for? If you believe a lot of recent blogs, you’d think Google is  the route to all knowledge, the all-purpose cure-all for every question, every problem. Recipes, diets, travel, reviews, buying, selling … you name it, you can do it on Google. Or can you? Really?

Google can help you get a good idea where to look for more serious information. If you are serious about learning and want to do more than scratch the surface, Google is the place where you line up your water fowl and figure out which are geese and swans versus the real ducks. After that?

Google shmoogle

I look for books to buy. For example, you cannot learn anything of value about ancient Chinese porcelain on Google. All you can find are additional sources which might lead to better material.

You can learn the rules of baseball by Googling it, but if you want to play the game, you’ll have join a team. Some things, you’re better off asking someone. “Grandma? Could you show me how to crochet?” Or take a class.

You are not going to really learn a language on line, not well enough to really communicate, but you might find out who gives courses or where to find a tutor.

History? Ornithology? Identifying wild flowers or butterflies? Buy a couple of books or borrow them from a library. Anyone who is even slightly serious about drilling deep into a subject knows  Google is the where you commence the search. It isn’t where you end it.

Google is intrusive, ubiquitous, careless of privacy and copyrights. It is many other bad things. But when you need basic information pronto, Google is the best way to get going.

Imperfect it may be, but there isn’t a better way. Or even a reasonable alternative.

Categories: Anecdote

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13 replies

  1. Hey I just mentioned this also in earlier comments. Um-m-m-m? What is going on tonight? I know am tired so going to get some zzzzzs!


  2. Oh the day of the card catalogue! A great smell, sorry if that’s weird! I rely on Google when DSB and I are at odds on a particular fact. Google gets to tell us who is right. 😀


    • Yes. A great argument settler, as long as it’s a matter of fact and not opinion! I’ve learned the hard way that what is presented as fact isn’t always! Now … that card catalogue. It was never wrong.


  3. When I was at university there was no web, and when it finally arrived it was more of a novelty so I’m no stranger to libraries and books.
    However, I started reading an actual physical book (shock gasp) the other day and was a bit shocked when I found myself pushing at the bottom right of the book when I reached the end of the page.
    No buttons on this book – I had to turn the page manually 🙂


  4. I still love libraries and go weekly at least, and there’s nothing like learning from someone who knows… but the vast quantity of knowledge via Google is hard to compete with. 🙂 Great reminder!


    • I love libraries too … even the smell of books makes me happy. But our library is only open a few hours a day and not at all in the evening. And if you want to look it up, there’s a computer there and you can google it. At the library.


      • I asked a librarian for help finding a book recently and she directed me to the computer to look up the book. When I explained that I know how libraries work, I just wanted to know what section she’d go to in order to find books on the topic, she handed me a sheet of paper that took me to a thesaurus. I guess she wanted me to look up words similar to my word… and then type that word into their internal search to find it. Oi vey! I just picked two sections and scanned them with my eyes and found the book I wanted, probably a million times faster than if I had tried the computer. 🙂


        • People have forgotten how to look things up without a computer. Garry is a reference book guy, but first, he thinks about it. He feels that using the computer is cheating. It helps if, as he has, you’ve got 10 zillion facts memorized! He’s a bit encyclopedic. Before Google, he would get calls in the middle of the night from people who needed to settle arguments. Me? They ask me what words mean. This I usually know.


  5. Being a professor, I often wonder how students found anything without Google. I guess they looked in books and journals or something .


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