Friday, 20 August 2010

If you can't Google it, it probably doesn't exist



I for one have started viewing Google (and Wikipedia for that matter) as a source of really quick and accurate information. If I need to find out the number of meters in a light year, or convert a measurement from cm to inches, a really quick search almost always reveals the answer right away. Sometimes I even use Google for weather, movie times and other random things. Instant gratification is indeed amazing.


But today I noticed that "beyond teck" (which incidentally happens to be the name of this blog in case you didn't notice) doesn't exist on Google. Searching for the term instead shows you results for "beyond tech". Google assumes that you want to search for beyond tech, even though that's not what you typed in and shows you results for that anyway based on previous searches where people meant to search for tech, but accidentally typed teck. Although it does provide a note saying that it's showing results for beyond tech instead, it seems like you don't get to choose what you're searching for when you type it the query. While this feature is often handy, it seems like sometimes Google can lead you to the wrong results.

Beyond teck doesn't exist? Must be a secret society or something!
I can easily imagine a situation where I tell my friend to search for my blog (because it's awesome!). But if I forget to tell my friend that you're suppose to spell tech as "teck" it would be very difficult to find the blog.

Another thing that I'm worried about is my ability to spell? In fact, if it weren't for the spell checking feature provided by my operating system, this post would certainly have several spelling errors, and it probably still does. Slowly, but surely, it seems like I'm depending on Google and my computer now to do the spell checking for me. I'm no longer trying to remember that 2.52 cm is an inch, and then doing some quick mental math to convert from inches to centimetres. I just blindly type it into Google, and assume that any answer it gives must be right. Of course, when I don't have access to a computer, which is rare since I almost always have a some sort of a computer with me, I still do it the "old school" way, but it already seems like a thing of the past.

Recently, I have also been reading Jean-Jaques Rousseau's Emile (as an ebook of course) and I've started wondering what our digital lives are doing to us. Of course, I'm not pessimistic like most (old) people are about the "ruin of the younger generation" (I'm certain that previous generations have warned younger generations about similar phenomena), but wasting time on useless internet endeavours certainly seems like something all of us should try to avoid.

What should I do instead? I don't know. But it sure seems like I ought to get used to staying "offline".




Got a question, tip or comment? Send them to beyondteck+question@gmail.com and we'll try to answer it in a blog post!

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