Nowadays, and thanks to the internet, all sorts of information and knowledge, from different fields of expertise, has been published online, mostly freely available to whoever needs it. This, I think, changes a lot of things, among them how people learn, know and find things.
We’re more or less moving towards an era in which no one really needs to know much more than some core basics in a certain topic and how to search and find the information they need for the rest.
Many times in my everyday life, whether at work or out of it, I find myself answering people’s questions by telling them to go and google it. And I know a lot of people who go through the same thing daily.
But something I’ve noticed is that even though we all have access to the same tools, we’re not all able to get the same information we need out of them.
Which is why I guess some people get offended when I tell them to go google something or search for it online, because they’re not sure they’ll be able to find it and they think I’m holding back information from them.
I guess one of the main reasons here is the language barrier. It’s easier to find what you’re looking for if you search for it in english as it’s the language most used for online content up to now. And if you’re not so good at english then you’re limited in expressing what you need to find or you have to use another language, therby limiting the scope of results and making the possibility of you not finding what you need bigger.
Another reason is the bad choice of keywords. A search engine, no matter how much artitificial intelligence it has built into it, is just a machine at the end of the day, which takes your input and searches for the closest and most relative matches to it. So you have to be a bit smart about which keywords to give it, trying to find the ones that would most probably be used in an article talking about the subject you’re after.
Some people also tend to give up quickly, again forgetting that they’re talking to a machine, and that if they didn’t find anything, it’s most probably because their input wasn’t good enough. What they should do is rethink the keywords they’re searching with and try again.
So as to not let this become an endless ramble about search engines, I’ll just end this with one more point, which is that some people still don’t fully understand the strength of these search engines and the wealth of information and material available through them.
I personally use search engines for everything and anything I need to find or make sure of, and I’ve rarely been left without an answer.
I’ll post more later about all the different things I use search engines for.