As a child of the 70s, my Google search engine came in the form of the World Book Encyclopedia. That encyclopedia set, I knew, was a big investment for my family: twenty-two blue, faux-leather volumes with majestic gold lettering, that sat on the bottom shelf of my parents’ clunky, 1970s-style bookcase. The 70s were a clunky time! Macrame. Pottery. Famolare shoes. Clunkety-clunk-clunk. But I didn’t care. These books, sure, were heavy and awkward. They also held answers, secrets, and information.
In this century, the nimble Internet, specifically Google, has done a marvelous job filling World Book’s sturdy, inflexible blue-leatherish wingtips. Whatever information I need to know, I must only pull out my phone and ask Google a question. Et voila! As long as I am willing to sit in that uncomfortable state of wondering for more than .013 seconds, I will receive my answer. Thousands and thousands of answers.
A glimpse into my recent Google search adventures:
- what year cyndi lauper time after time
- george w george h w friction
- buttermilk substitution
No knowledge of alphabetical order necessary! No need even to capitalize proper nouns! Certainly no need to use complete sentences or punctuation!
But while the speedily-delivered answers to these burning questions seem satisfying, how does the information afforded to me via Google enhance my life? I’m not sure it does.
Was my family’s set of the Word Book Encyclopedia any more satisfying? I think so. Although maybe it satisfied me because I loved anything book-related. Maybe it seemed more objective and factual than the Internet.* Maybe I liked pulling a volume from that clunky bookcase, then lying on my stomach on that scratchy carpet, and thumbing through those shiny pages. [Read more…]