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Google - More Than Just a Search Engine, More a Way of Life
But beware "Google padding" by students, says professor.

In a remarkable article at the weekend in the New York Times, Google has broken a new record: it's become the subject, not of technology journalism, but of lifestyle journalism.

Writing in the "Fashion & Style" section of the Times, writer David Hochman rattles through the usual Google success stories, such as the recovery of no fewer than 4 of the 5 left-handed electric guitars stolen from Robert McLaughlin that, when Googled, turned out to be on sale by the thief in a live auction. But much more interesting is his escursion into the realms of philosphy, such as when he quotes Esther Dyson, publisher of Release 1.0 and technology uber-guru:

"In one sense, with Google, everything is knowable now. We were much more passive about information in the past. We would go to the library or the phone book, and if it wasn't there, we didn't worry about it. Now, people can't as easily drift from your life. We can't pretend to be ignorant." But the flood of unedited information, she said, demands that users sharpen critical thinking skills, to filter the results. 'Google,' she said, 'forces us to ask, 'What do we really want to know?' "

When Hochman asked Craig Silverstein, mind you - Google's director of technology and its first employee - whether Google changes the world, he wasn't quite as convinced as Dyson. "Not necessarily," he replied. "But we think Google makes conversations richer and more fruitful. With it, you improve the quality of discourse. Or at least have bar arguments that are more well-informed."

Very down-to-earth for a director of technology.

Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin and Larry Page, both of whom Forbes magazine added to its list of the world's richest people this month, is equally candid that Google is not yet a philospher's stone, and will go on improving:

"Google's major limitations have to do with the devices you access it with today. The Web is an infinite improvement over the library, but in the future, people won't hold off on searching. Ideally, you'll access the world's information almost as easily as you access your own memory."

Another drawback familiar to us all was underlined in the article by Leon Botstein, the president of Bard College and music director of the American Symphony Orchestra.

"That you found it on Google doesn't make it right," he tells Hochman, adding that he's concerned Google is a ticket to procrastination, a vehicle for intellectual fakery, and a forum for crackpots and conspiracy theorists.

The trouble is, in other words, that despite those queries that return 753,000 Internet links in 0.34 second, Google is by no means a fount of human knowledge - it's short on history, since most Web pages have been created since 1995, and is overloaded with sex, sports, conspiracy theories, and pop stars.

"Its algorithm for indexing search results is based on popularity," writes Hochman, "not necessarily accuracy." He continues:

"The more links a Web page has, the higher its rank on Google. Type 'apple' and expect to wade through dozens of results out of more than 28 million before arriving at a Web site even closely related to the fruit."

Here's how Leon Botstein expresses it:

"Google padding is replacing true research in classrooms. In general, it overwhelms you with too much information, much of which is hopelessly unreliable or beside the point. It's like looking for a lost ring in a vacuum bag. What you end up with mostly are bagel crumbs and dirt."

 

About Jeremy Geelan
Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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Reader Feedback: Page 1 of 1

MistyChart is a java based charting component. MistyChart requires java Plug-in 1.4. MistyChart supports close to 50 chart formats. Some of the chart formats supported are pie, column, 3d column, stock, etc

We should also mention the many useful third party additions that Google has spawned in the developer community, like Googlism (www.googlism.com) and Google Alert (www.googlealert.com), which uses the Google API.

Google emphasises that it clearly seperates paid search results from natural search results (i.e. the nicely coloured bits are the paid results). Also, be careful about what you see on Google Watch.org. The bloke behind that created it because he couldn't seem to get good positions on Google and decided that it was a personal vendetta against him, without looking into why he wasn't getting high rankings.

Google may be good, but it still has a long way to go before it is good enough. The example of searching for Paris Hilton is a good one too. Do you want the Hotel or the Socialite? Try it, see what you get ;o)

Anyone who thinks google is so wonderful should have a look at the material on google-watch.org
Really scary !

Google indeed is a very, very valuable source of information. But it was even better in its beginning. Since Google allows to buy ranks, it is no longer really trustworthy. You never can be sure, why a link is in first position: money or impact.




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