Tonawanda News

May 29, 2014

WALLACE: Just Google it

By Amy Wallace
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — I’ve come to realize that I have a “friend” that I rely on for everything from relationship advice, to recipes, to medical diagnosis, to how to fix a flat tire and pretty much anything else you can imagine. This “friend” is named Google. Yep, I said Google. The Internet search engine where you can ask pretty much any question, in any way and find a plethora of answers.

Now obviously I am not being serious when I use the term “friend” to describe Google, but I have realized that there are some similarities between the popular search engine and a good friend. First, a good friend is always there when you need them. So is Google. Anytime, day or night, you can type in your query and Google will be there to provide an answer. 

Another similarity is that Google fills some of the same roles as a friend like giving advice, but in this case in the form of an answer to a question. 

Ah, the answer to a question. That is the real crux of Google. 

Remember when you used to ask a random question about what the name of a certain movie was or who was that actor on that TV show? In the “olden days,” if you or the people you were with didn’t know the answer, you were left just wondering and hoping that maybe someday it would come to you. And sometimes you were lucky and it did. But most of the time, you were left with this unanswered question, forever being nagged with “who sang that song?”

Not any more thanks to Google and the various other less popular Internet search engines. Now you can have immediate access to answers ranging from what year did man first walk on the moon to what actor played Remington Steele?

I can’t tell you how often I find myself saying, “I’ll just Google it.” Google is even used as a verb in current vernacular. 

Aside from just finding random answers to trivia questions, the easy, instant access to information in the digital age makes it easier for students to do their school work. 

When I was a kid growing up in the 70s and 80s, we used to have to actually go to the library to do research and check out books using the card catalog. Infomercials on television advertised volumes of encyclopedias to purchase for your home use. Sets like Encyclopedia Britannica were even sold by door-to-door salesmen and it was a status symbol if you had the entire set. We never could afford those sets so it was always off to the library for me. 

I honestly don’t know if children these days even know what an encyclopedia is or how to use one.

Today, trips to the library are almost obsolete. My children can find almost any book online and research any topic on the Internet. Journals, papers, biographies, fiction and nonfiction books are all available with just a click of the mouse. Even the term mouse is becoming “so five years ago” with the advent of tablets and touch screens. 

With the introduction of the Overdrive Media Console, a digital distribution service for libraries, schools, and retailers that includes 28,000 library branches and over 1 million titles, you can have instant access to library titles via your laptop or tablet.

No more waiting and wondering, now every possible answer is immediately available at your fingertips. 

Are we smarter because of this instant access to information? I don’t know, I honestly don’t think so. We may have more trivia-type knowledge at the ready but are we really learning more? I guess that will be for the researchers to decide. 

But I do like not having to hope an answer will just come to me at some point, now I can just Google it. 

Amy Wallace is the city editor of the Tonawanda News. Contact her at amy.wallace@tonawanda-news.com.