Obviously Google has changed the world and the way we work with information and the way we think over the last 20 years. Google, along with its parent company Alphabet, is involved in almost everything from automotive robotics to disputes with Donald Trump.
However, as James W. Cortada writes in “All the Facts: A History of Information in the United States since 1870,” Google has only been involved in information search habits, continuing a centuries-old trend.
One of these trends, for example, is the safe assumption that the information a person wants to find exists somewhere in a written form. Google’s role in finding this information is simple – it makes it a lot easier, says Time.
“As you learn to read and write, you realize that there are data and information that, in turn, are organized in a logical order. In addition, you learn not only what you read but also how information is structured. The more people read, the more they also write or organize information themselves. Until the 18th century, people were thinking, “I don’t know what a book on this subject is, but I know it exists somewhere,” Kortada explained.
The US Congress noticed this trend and continued its spread and development. The US government facilitated access to information by reducing the cost of receiving newspapers and, later, issuing self-financed free newspapers.
At the same time, technologies were developing that made information acquisition even cheaper and more accessible. The answers to the various questions were no longer “somewhere” but “here”. According to Cortada, Google was just a logical step in the development of a process that had already taken a certain direction. The only difference lies in frequency and quantity.
“The thing is, Google offers another platform and format for the information, people have been looking for over 200 years,” Kortada added.
In other words, the way people interact with information has changed in the Internet age.
“Looking for information nowadays could be compared to a book where we first open the content rather than reading it from cover to cover,” Kortada explained.
Here’s an example of Cortad: “Imagine you want to know the year John F. Kennedy was elected president. If you had an encyclopedia, you would look for the Kennedy section and find out he was elected president in 1960. True, to come to the answer, you would probably have to go through other facts about Kennedy’s life. Conversely, if you had access to Google, you would most likely use keywords or indexes that are directly related to the fact of being elected and find the answer right away. The more we use Google, the more our brains organize the world in an index-based way. It also means that people who are involved in delivering information to the consumer make it so that it is the indices that attract the consumer’s attention. ”
As a result, the way we interact with information is a much more jerky process than our ancestors did.
“The indices are not bad. I use them whenever I use Google Search. There is only one problem – for most people, this huge quantum of information loses its entirity, which is to turn it into countless of small pieces of information floating in the large ocean, ”Kortada acknowledged.
For example, if you don’t know anything about Kennedy, that election year won’t tell you much. Even if this answer is incorrect, you will not look at it critically because you will lack knowledge.
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“The future will require a whole new way of reading and writing in order to survive in an index-driven world,” Kortada concluded.