But back to my number two boyfriend: Google. As you know, all librarians are in love with Google and we are all anxiously awaiting the days when it will put us out of a job…. OK I am kidding. However, we all love to talk about Google. Here are two non-librarian perspectives on Google. One which tells us how people search Google and other search engines. Is it any surprise that Google says that “Searchers become expert searchers very quickly” using Google? No, it isn’t. The second article is by a sysadmin pal of mine who went to a talk about Google’s place in research and librarianship. He was a bit suprised at all the gushing admiration he saw. He wrote this post: Google is Good? Talking about how while Google may not be evil, it both is and is not, good.
In the market of information, we tend to believe that the results Google provides are “most relevant”. In fact, the concept of relevance is redefined…. It is as if every time you searched for Apartheid, you got back a USA Today article on the end of Apartheid. This would be useful if you wanted a generalist knowledge, but it would be less useful if you had to study a specialist sub-area of the topic. To sum, as we begin to trust Google as a central knowledge authority, we do become more “dumb.” By accepting generalist documents and valuing ordered results, we’re buying into the system. There is inherent danger here; I feel that for many reasons, this danger is lost on most.