CHOICE membership

How Good Is Google?


#1

In my opinion, one of the greatest things that has occurred since the internet became available for public use was the arrival of Google.

Whilst initially just another search engine, it has expanded into so much more than just that with features such as the Google News service, their language translation facility, Google Maps, and many more.

Now when the latest version of Microsoft Word flags a spelling error but it cannot suggest the correct word, I simply either copy the incorrect word into the Google search bar or start typing it, whereupon Google invariably displays the correct spelling.

Likewise, when I see an unfamiliar word in an article, I simply copy and paste it into the Google search bar and the meaning of the word is instantly displayed.

When my wife’s father passed away in 2009, our family all gathered in Cairns for his funeral during which our son, our son-in-law, and my wife’s youngest brother were sitting around her mother’s dining table working with their Dell laptops to keep up to speed with their respective employment positions.

I mentioned to them the news item that day in which some Australian university hotshots, (I think it was Newcastle), claimed that Google was a “dumb” search engine and they were developing the world’s first “smart” search engine, to which they all concurred we can’t wait to see it.

Now some 9 years later, I cannot even find any mention of it, even with the help of my good friend, Mr Google.

When my wife and I first visited the USA in 1993, she wanted to visit Graceland which we did.
We went on a bus tour of Memphis and one stop was at Schwab’s which is listed as the oldest store in the city.
During our visit, we bought some of their souvenir pencils which were inscribed with their motto “If you can’t find it at Schwab’s, you’re better off without it”

My motto now is that “If you cannot find it with Google, you are probably better off not knowing it”.


#2

However sometimes it is more correct that if you can find it with google you might be better off not knowing it unless you actively distil rubbish from fact, and pseudo-conspiracy sources from the ‘genuine’ ones.


#3

Google has been a boon I agree, but it also has a dark side.

Censorship happens, and not just for good reasons. Sometimes it is for business reasons, such as being allowed in to a country, or to stay in a country.

The algorithms that Google use to prioritise the order sites are listed in was open to manipulation, both from within Google, and from without. It was possible to arrange to create hits on a site to push it up the rankings using bots or cheap labour key pushers. I know that they have worked on this, but I’m also certain that there is still the opportunity to manipulate the algorithm.

Another downside is that it doesn’t prioritise information from valid sources and sites over dross, so we get things like the antivaxer information coming up before legitimate information. Unfortunately, too many people don’t think about the results critically, and just accept what is dispensed at face value.

Yet another downside is the loss of privacy, as I’m sure you are aware, of Google tracking not only your browser use, but also there sources of information on your computer such as your contacts, your GPS (if activated), etc.

So yes, Google is good if used correctly and the results viewed critically, but be careful because it is a two edged sword.