Google Knowledge

One of the influences on my own thinking has been whether things are really changing or it only seems as if it is! The great power of Google to drag up things from anywhere and everywhere (almost) does seem to have changed the way I think and act, and I believe this is true for others as well. A key to this could be something I called Google Knowledge.

Google Knowledge is when you don’t know something but you know Google does.

This has changed the way we seem to value various kinds of knowledge. One example is web addresses. For a while a useful skill was to be able to remember the most valuable websites and URLs were part of conversations – great care was also needed to keep your own collection of bookmarks up to date and in good order. Now though we care much less about the URLs that are printed on trucks and business cards, if we want to find someone or something we will Google for it. If on the way we get distracted it might well be by a better option.

A more personal example occurs when watching something on TV and trying to remember the name of an actor, or what else they were in. Rather than searching for long lost memories now a quick Google gives the answer. In some ways this is a shame – a colleague at work has deep knowledge of films but is probably being called on far less to solve mysteries about last night’s showings.

So we are ending up as switched on laptop users fetching obscure and distracting knowledge (unless I am still in my Down Time mode). But I think it also impacts on my writing at this very moment. For instance in good academic style maybe I should throw in some references, or link into some examples – however I know you have Google sitting by your side: so just pick out the words that interest you and find your own links!

Hmm – I thought that the previous sentence could be a final point but actually there is a hybrid version I want to mention. Going back into my past again there was a very nice concept of “Smart Content”, which came to me at from work at the BT Labs at Martlesham Heath and an EU project called GUARDIANS (now there is a Google challenge as the web site folded after the project). In Smart Content the idea is that the content you are reading will pop up the latest relevant material. With the power of Google this is much less of a technical challenge that it was a few years ago – but maybe the choice of what to fetch has to be in the hands of the user rather than the content? Any way here is my Smart Content link to Google Knowledge.

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