How to use Google

Nov 22, 2008 | Mobile & Web

Picture 12

 

WHAT IS IT?

We’ve all been there. You’re sitting talking with a friend, the topic changes to something random and obscure and inevitably sooner or later a question comes up where the line of inquiry goes on…and on…and on.

  • Why is the sky blue?
  • Who was the guy who played the police officer in ‘The Professional’?
  • What are the constituent ingredients of Pancake batter?

Meanwhile all you can think (and please don’t judge me for this)…is, let’s face it. Google knows. Why don’t you pull out your phone, laptop, brain query interface and get an answer in the next 10 seconds as opposed to speculating for another 10 minutes.

Enter Letmegooglethatforyou a fantastic little web meme that made a little splash in the blogosphere last week.

Quite simply you enter the search query that you know will answer your galling compadre’s question.

And the rest you can see here.

 

WHY IS IT RELEVANT?

Okay, okay…it’s just a bit of fun and maybe just a little passive aggressive. Maybe the Pacific NW stereotype is finally rubbing off on me 🙂 Who knows maybe it will actually educate the less tech savvy on how to use Google…I’m sure there’s one or two people left out there still! I thought it was pretty funny but then I started to think about WHY I thought it was funny. We’ve reached a point in our society where the privileged (i.e. Those with web access) in many situations have almost ‘perfect’ access to information. The fact that I can look up the President of Ghana in less time than it takes you to read this sentence is now an accepted norm and those who don’t live and breathe that lifestyle are now becoming targets of ridicule. One could argue that the emergence of this meme may be a consequence of the ‘Digital Divide‘, the gap between those people with effective access to digital and information technology and those without.

Wikipedia indicates that in the US, this is actually an increasing problem amongst lower income families.

According to a July 2008 Pew Internet & American Life report, “55% of adult Americans have broadband Internet connections at home, up from 47% who had high-speed access at home last year at this time [2007]”. This increase of 8% compared to the previous year’s increase of 5% suggests that the digital divide is decreasing. However, the findings go on to show that low-income Americans’ broadband connections decreased by 3%.

Even more interesting to consider is how the digital divide may end up shaping our democracy on a fundamental level. As my learned partner Mr.Lai pointed out in his ‘What business can learn about the Obama machine‘ post, The Obama Presidential Campaign was absolutely won by leveraging the web to raise more funds and reach more people than has ever occurred in the past. The Change.gov website would suggest that this is only the beginning of his administrations online strategy. Obviously no system is perfect, but how does one represent the voice of all segments in a democracy (the young, the old, the less wealthy) when they don’t have access to the tools? I don’t have the answer, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the local library.

In the meantime, I’m just going to keep being a smart arse and sending my friends links to to letmegooglethatforyou.com

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