autoethnology about googling and its effects on society.
When I was child if you wanted to know how something worked, how to spell it or even what it's meaning is you would pick up a book. Whether it was an encyclopedia or a dictionary a periodical or an essay. This isn't really true any longer. With the emergence of the internet all this changed. Now if you have a question like this you just turn on a computer, a tablet, or a cell phone. You bring up a web browser, I myself tend to use Google but there are multiple to choose from. I've been pretty deep into technology since I was about 12 years old in the early 1990's when we got our first computer. At the time Google didn't exist it was msn or yahoo, but I didn't automatically turn to that I would still seek out a book.
You never really learn all there is to know about technology. It is constantly growing and morphing to meet our societies needs and wants. As a student of technology I of course have chosen something related for my essay. The ritual I have chosen is one that has exploded in popularity as our technology becomes more portable. This ritual is googling to research information. This particular ritual has a little bit of controversy surrounding it, some claim it's effecting the way we think or making us dumber.
Google has made many changes in how search engines work. When you type in a term now the results you get are more fluid and less linear than they used to be. These days the results you get are more accurate than what I remember from when I was young. It used to take hours for me to sift through all the results I would get from a single search.
When I started my very first semester at Iowa Western Community College in 2008, the way I thought about learning changed drastically. My first computer course instructor on the very first day told us he was about to teach us the most important skill for anyone doing computer repair, programming, or network administration. I was a bit skeptical after all that's a pretty broad statement the most important skill. You would think that would be how a computer works. Or how to reassemble the computer once you take it apart. That has to be something complicated or difficult right?
I was absolutely incorrect. The most important skill is how to properly search Google for code, commands, and instructions. Not just how to use the search engine but how to search well. So in this very first class of my college experience we learned how to search the internet for information. Turned out to be a bit more difficult than I thought.
Searching with Google wasn't the difficult part. The difficult part was using the right search terms, and sifting through the results. Having the right amount of skepticism is also a vital part to insure we found the best answer. This single two-hour class literally set me on the right path to pass nearly every technology course I took. Both in the network administration side and the application and web programming side of things.
Google was founded in 1995 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Stanford University. At first it was called BackRub, this name made me chuckle when I first read it. I'm glad they didn't stick with the name can you imagine Google being called BackRub. Instead of Googling information we would BackRub information. It just doesn't sound like something that could catch on and become popular. Eventually it became too big for the Stanford servers and they had to move it. They decided to go public and it was incorporated in 1998. However, Google is no longer just a company; it has become a verb something that we do. (Google)
People google a vast array of topics as part of a normal day. It has become an excepted part of our society. People are constantly using it on their computers, laptops, tablets and cell phones. They even have a laptop dedicated to Google products called a Chromebook. If your cell phone has an android operating system you actually need a Google account to set it up. Google has bought up other technologies over the years including, YouTube and Keyhole which enabled them the to launch Google earth. (Google)
A study was conducted by Betsy Sparrow, Jenny Liu, and Daniel M. Wegner in 2011. This study was titled "Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips". They did four different experiments. They found that the way we think and memorize has changed. An evolution is taking place in regards to how we remember information. If the piece of information is something that you think will be available online when you need it, it's likely you won't remember it. That instead your brain will act as a card catalog and remember the location of where you find the information. The internet seems to have caused psychological changes in the way we learn. (Sparrow)
There are both advantages to this and disadvantages as well. Information being so readily available is a wonderful thing. However there has been some negative feedback from educators. It seems that googling information is causing students to become lazy, they don't learn the proper way to research. Instead they just google it and don't learn to reflect on the information. This reflection in research is an important part as it teaches students how to think, rather than just how to read information and regurgitate it in a report or on a worksheet. (Heick)
I've always been very curious about the world and how things work. The sheer easy of accessibility that google provides is a definite advantage. Having all that information available opens doors and breeds possibilities.
Heick claimed in his article that google is linear and it is. Computer systems and the act of searching one is inherently linear. When you write a program to search a system, the way it works is to look through the system alphabetically. Either from A to Z or from Z to A, and includes numbers as well. That's the only way a computer can work. But the act of learning was never meant to be linear. Our brains connect information in a more fluid manner. Rather than from A to Z it may go from A to a scent or a feeling then off to another letter. It should be used in conjunction with other resources such as mind maps and other tools for reflection. (Heick)
I was pretty shocked to find that the Iowa Western campus library had no books. Like it or not our world is going digital. With Kindle and Nook, YouTube and Spotify pretty soon all our formats will be digital and internet based. The emergence of the technology age has changed modern society. Once product of this change is that information is not valued as highly as it used to be. People stretch to reach past there means for information and our technology has made success possible for people of all walks of life. The honest truth is technology will continue to grow and as a society we will have to come to terms with this. Preserving the past is difficult to do in this case. To be bluntly honest googling is easier than the way we used to research. It takes much less time and effort. Technology has become its own culture one that stretches past boundaries of race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, or sexual identity. It's a culture of millions of people around the world demanding information and possibility.
Google. About Google. n.d. web. 29 August 2016. <https://www.google.com/about/company/history/>.
Heick, Terry. "How Google Impacts the way Students Think." 12 November 2014. TeachThought. web. 28 August 2016. <http://www.teachthought.com/critical-thinking/how-google-impacts-the-way-students-think/>.
Oliver, Christopher. "Google effects on memory: Cognitive consequences of having information at our fingeritps." 22 July 2011. Journalist's Resource. web. 28 August 2016.
Prasad, T. Rama. "The 'Google effect:' may be good may be bad." 22 April 2012. The Hindu. web. 28 August 2016. <http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-google-effect-may-be-good-may-be-bad/article3340116.ece>.
Sparrow, Betsy, and Liu, Jenny, and Wegner, Daniel M. "Google Effects on Memory: Cognative Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips ." 05 August 2011. Science. web. 28 August 2016. <http://science.sciencemag.org/content/333/6043/776.article-info>.
PBS NewsHour, "Googles Effects on Memory." Online video clip. YouTube. Goggle, July 13, 2011. Web.
August 29, 2016.