So, what do Google and Blogs have in common? As many of you know, Google celebrated its tenth anniversary this year.
And as I drink my morning coffee from my Google coffee cup, it seemed appropriate to make a link and draw some conclusions to where, in my humble opinion, I think the future of the internet is headed. That’s certainly a “mouthful of words” as my son likes to say. Anyway, let’s step into the “wayback machine” and take a look at why and how Google came to dominate the landscape.
Do you remember a time online before search engines?
Philosophy of Technology
When it comes to technology (thanks to the “Philosophy of Technology” course at Fordham), once it arrives on the scene and we adopt the new widget, device or technique, it’s hard to imagine what our life was prior to having or using the new thingy.
Meaning, when technology functions properly, we tend NOT to notice it at all. Not until the device breaks down do we take notice of it’s not working properly. Here’s an example. The next time the power is out, count how many times you flick on a light switch, pick up the remote, or try to do ANYTHING.
It’s tough to break the habit of expectation.
And anyone older than age 40 or so can relate to life prior to remote controls for TV. As a kid, I was the remote control. My dad would say “hey, change the channel” and I had to get up off the couch, stand near the TV (careful not to block it) and turn the KNOB. Each “click…click” indicated I was turning channels.
Back then, we had 2 KNOBS on the TV. One for low numbers (2 thru 13), and the other for the high numbers (I think 25 thru 65 or some such thing). Up in the Boston area there was channel 38 and channel 56. Channel 9 didn’t come in to clear, so we had 2, 4, 5, 7, 38 and 56.
That was pretty much it.
So what’s the point. Well, hundreds of channels, the internet, remotes, etc. are all common place today. But few of us reflect on that.
And, to be frank, most of the time there’s no need to. But every time I hear about ratings for shows like the Olympics (which I DIDN’T watch this year), I reflect on the FACT that, as kids, we had 6 channels and no internet. When the Olympics were on, it was big news. Like the circus coming to town.
So when I hear pundits saying “how come the ratings are down” and “how can we fix this” and I see NBC or whatever channel is hosting the Olympics try to jazz up their ratings by hyping people who haven’t even won gold medals yet, or giving us human interest stories, I remember this simple MATHEMATIC fact…
It’s hard to compete with hundreds of channels and online access. Back in the day, they WERE the ONLY game in town. Now… not so much. And no matter how they try to dress up the pony, we simply have TOO MANY OPTIONS to take notice. Which leads us to…
There was a time, long ago, when searching for information online was a bit of a crap shoot. Man, it was tough. And if you didn’t know what you were doing, you were hosed. You could literally spend HOURS online and not find what you wanted or were looking for.
If you had a “techie” friend you were in luck. Tell him or her what you wanted, and maybe pay them in pizza or “Jolt” and they were happy. Like going to a scribe before people learned to read and write, they were your gateway to online information.
Then search engines came around.
I used to use Dogpile all the time, and they might even still be around. But sometimes the results weren’t even close to what I wanted.
So, one day I was doing some research and getting garbage results, and someone said “hey, try Google.” When I typed in my search terms, low and behold the results were a better match to what I wanted. And I’ve never looked back.
That’s an example of “search experience.” And Google, for years, has been fanatic about safeguarding the experience of the person turning to them as a portal to find information. Understand this and you’ll understand the rational for every “Google slap” that has happened over the years.
They want to remain top dog (sorry Dogpile) by ensuring that when I turn to them to find stuff, the stuff that gets served up to me is relevant to my needs. And that breeds loyalty. Not the cool Google coffee cup with Dilbert on it (I paid $20 for that 7 or 8 years ago).
So what does all this mean for where we’re heading. Understand this…
What Google did was level the playing field.
Any average Joe (no, NOT Joe the Plumber) could use internet access, a PC and search engines to conduct research as thoroughly as a Ph.D. If this truly is the “information age” search engines PUT vast amounts of information at ALL our finger tips, without the needed assistance from “techies.” It’s all out there, online, and search engines make it possible for ANYONE to find it.
That’s the point about “democratization.” And why Google successfully celebrated 10 years when so many “dot-bombs” failed in the past.
They positioned themselves as THE access point between us, the person searching, and VAST QUANTITIES of information that we’re looking for.
So what does all this have to do with blogs and the future of the internet…?
Any questions? Comments? Did we hit a nerve?
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