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Old Man Google

Posted by: | September 5, 2011 | No Comment |


The name stands alone as one of the most revolutionary innovations in recorded history, fifteen years after its inception in 1996 as the “web crawler” BackRub, “designed to traverse the web.”

Where its predecessors Yahoo and AOL, with their once-widely popular search engines, have failed to corner the search market, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin continue to take a simple strategy and put it to good use to fuel their decidedly meteoric rise: put the search first; opting during the initial stages to leave potential monetary gains out of the conversation.

Because of this approach, by 1998 Google was named as the “search engine of choice” by PC Magazine in that year’s Top 100 Web Sites of the Year feature.

By 2010, Google — a play on words, referencing the googol, a “1” with a hundred zeros behind it, or the number of subatomic particles in the visible Universe — had grown its search index from roughly 25 million pages, to over 40 billion pages, with each page connected through the search process using “spiders.”

Inevitably, the search engine’s success has left many wondering just what the future holds for the company.

Some will point to the Android Operating System and “The Cloud” as steps forward from a monetary perspective.

Others, however, point to the rate at which information is being created, ever since the invention of — and subsequent international dependence on — the internet, as Google’s carrot on a stick.

The late and highly regarded researcher and philosopher Terence McKenna, discussing Singularity theory and his own theory of Timewave Zero, once broke it down like this:

“The amount of information created by man, since he gained the ability to do so through the written word, doubled once during the period of history between the time of Christ and the life of Leonardo da Vinci.

It doubled again in the period of history between da Vinci and the American Revolution.

It doubled again in the period of history between the American Revolution and the early 1900’s.

And again in 1950.

And again in 1960… and 1967… and 1973.”

By 2010, the amount of information created by man, now through the written word and the internet, along with recorded music, film and pictures, doubled every 11 hours.

It is this fact that dictates the future of Google.

How well the company is able to adapt to the rapid rate of information creation, and continue to provide the public with search results in under a second, will not only determine the length of their reign, but the heights to which potential competitors must aspire.

Speaking with this class last week, Professor Steve Klein, coordinator of the Journalism concentration and Electronic Journalism minor at George Mason University, equated social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to the spoken word of the new age. With a few key strokes and a click, everyone with a live internet connection has a voice.

A voice and a chance to create and share information.

Put that way, it’s easy to think of these outlets as a new type of Party Line, only with billions of customers.

If that’s the case, then Google can be equated to that old man you used to know on the corner.

You remember. As a kid you would sit and listen to him amble on about whatever happened to be on his mind that day.

He’d tell you a little bit about this, and a little about that; and you listened because he seemed to know a little bit about everything. He told such great stories and made such convincing arguments that you felt confident passing off his information as fact when you retold those stories to your friends later in the day.

Through his associations, and with an ear to the ground, he not only became the neighborhood’s information catalog, but a sort of informal teacher as well.

That’s what Google is today.

40 billion times over…

And I, for one, can’t wait to see what Old Man Google comes up with next.

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