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How did google go from being a misspelling of the number 1 with 100 zeroes after it to being the number 1 search engine in the world?  Well, John Battelle talks about just that in his book, The Search.  It is common during the work day to have someone say to you, “oh, just Google it.”  Or, over happy hour drinks to hear a friend say, “well, I googled it and found…”  Jeff Jarvis uses the term “Google U” to describe a new way of going to college that he feels sure will emerge from the Google-created universe.  First of all, what is this search fueled universe we all inhabit?  Battelle postulates that we went from a society of search to see what is out there to a society of search to find what we know is out there.  Not only do we search to find information, but we search expecting instant gratification.  For instance, today I searched for the lyrics to a song by a very new artist.  I was appalled to find the lyrics were nowhere to be found.  These feelings of disappointment and anger are relatively new to our society.  Twenty years ago, I would not have known about this artist (because I discovered her on Myspace’s top artist list), and I would have been on my way to a record store if I wanted to find the lyrics.  The Search opened my eyes to what a charmed internet life we all lead.  Using search technology, one could find my blog in the blink of an eye.  Even as I am typing this post in MSWord, I find it funny that blog comes up as a misspelled word.  However, if I transfer the text into MSWord 2007, it is no longer underlined with a red, squiggly line.  How funny that all of these thoughts were not even a concept a few short years ago. 

 President Kennedy gave a speech at Rice University in 1962.  He put scientific progress into amazing words that really created a mental picture.  He said, “No man can fully grasp how far and how fast we have come, but condense, if you will, the 50,000 years of man’s recorded history in a time span of but a half century. Stated in these terms, we know very little about the first 40 years, except at the end of them advanced man had learned to use the skins of animals to cover them. Then about 10 years ago, under this standard, man emerged from his caves to construct other kinds of shelter. Only 5 years ago man learned to write and use a cart with wheels. Christianity began less than 2 years ago. The printing press came this year, and then less than 2 months ago, during this whole 50-year span of human history, the steam engine provided a new source of power. Newton explored the meaning of gravity. Last month electric lights and telephones and automobiles and airplanes became available. Only last week did we develop penicillin and television and nuclear power, and now if America’s new spacecraft succeeds in reaching Venus, we will have literally reached the stars before midnight tonight.”  Can you imagine how President Kennedy’s speech would have changed were he alive today.  He might have added that at 11:32 PM the internet came into being, and at 11:59 PM any citizen of the universe can tap a few buttons and hold the world at their fingertips.  Kennedy spoke of reaching Venus in 1962, now he would be talking about astronauts signing onto gmail (I still see the red, squiggly line) while floating in zero gravity.  There is no doubt that Battelle hit the nail on the head.  Search is the nature of all humanity.  Daily we are striving to know all the answers, to capture all knowledge and share that new found knowledge with the world.  Google would have given the world instant pictures of Venus simply by typing Venus into Google Images search engine.  This post may lack the summary nature it should, but it is more than a summary of Battelle’s book.  It is a real woman’s moment in time.  A moment where I realized the true effect search has had on the world I call my own.  Without search, I would not be as good as I am at my job.  Without search, I would not know much of the things I know.  And, without search, I would never order carryout (who wants to pull out the phonebook).

Tim Ferriss participated in a debate on Economist.com and the question was simply, “If technology promises to simply our lives, is it failing?”  Those of us in the Google era would have to say that search has truly simplified our lives.  What are your thoughts on other current technologies?    

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