Thursday, March 15, 2012

This lent, give up google searches?

Disclaimer: This is more of a brainstorm than something that should be considered a fully-thought out blog post.

As someone who writes content and markets it over the internet, I am an avid student of how people find information in Web 2.0. Most of what I learn, however, disappoints me.
I think the idea of "googling" has always been distressing to me. At first, I didn't like it because it was a somewhat arduous task that didn't get good information back to you. Now that the web search has admittedly improved, it's hard to fall back on that as an excuse for why I don't like googling, leaving me to fall back on other reasons, beyond the traditional "not knowing what you're getting or how reliable it is, along with occasionally still not getting what you're looking for" excuses.

When I was a freshman in college, I learned of the idea of "texts" which, as I understand it (and I might be off), is the idea of getting your body of knowledge from a single source. Simply put, anything on a bibliography is a text. A textbook, an article, etc. More than that texts are people.

Your wise uncle, your professor, your third grade teacher, even a guy you talk with on an also count as texts. In the old days, knowledge was passed on through oral traditions and that's probably part of why yore was so appealling. There probably was some importance to knowledge being part of a social function. Religious people who are passionate about gaining spiritual guidance seek out a clergyman (rabbi, priest, shaman, what have you) or other spiritual teacher. Similarly, people who want to succeed as athletes seek out a coach. I don't know about all people but I recently spent some time with a former opera singer who said she'd go back to the profession if she could find the right vocal coach. Is it possible that the best way to learn for these people is through a one-on-one learning relationship, you have to ask if that's not the best way to go about a lot of things.

When you use that same "text" for everything, all your texts and sources are getting muddled. Even if your google search takes you to site A, B, and C, and you selected Site B, you don't process it as such. If you were to relay how you got the information to someone else, you wouldn't say "I got it from Site B." You'd say "I googled it."

Shouldn't Site B get the credit and deserve to be your source of information next time? Wouldn't it be beneficial for you to return to site B as well?  That's what I do.The internet affords us a lot of opportunities to get acquainted with texts, and I take advantage of all of them. I hardly ever go to google. If I want to know about a TV show's history, I got to, if I want to know a cast listing, I go to, and if I want to know a schedule, I'll go to imdb or tvgen. If I want to know about a newspaper market, I'll go to the Virginia Press Association, MediaBistro, or 50States. These are all just a couple of examples, but the point is I have a fairly good virtual roadmap of the internet for all my needs.

In my opinion (although I'm not really the expert), we don't go the extra mile because googling is a cognitive shortcut. We're shutting off our brains to a proverbial GPS. 

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