I don’t know if I could have done my job in the bad old days before search engines. Every time I proof a feature, I spend half my time on Google checking every name that is quoted, the brands that are mentioned and any facts that are cited. It would be hard to count, let alone be able to afford, the number of reference books I would need on my desk to double-check all the stuff I need to every day.
Nearly every conversation, or more commonly, argument I have with one of my children involves looking up some sort of ‘fact’ that we disagree over. Yesterday I found out that squirrels definitely do not hibernate, that Portsmouth is a city, not a town, and that our favourite dancer on Strictly Come Dancing (Stacey Dooley, need you ask?) is 31 years old.
How many times does someone have to check out some information on their smartphones at meetings you go to? I can’t remember any recent work catch-ups where the phone wasn’t pulled out at least once to look up something or other.
Naturally, the first thing I did before writing this was to google Google. On this site I found out something I really should have known already, that the actual word 'google’ is a play on words of ‘googol’ which is a mathematical term for the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. The site explains: “It is rumoured that this reflects the founders' mission to organise the infinite amount of information on the internet”.
As Google is where I get most of my news, I also read about the latest scandal concerning Google, which is that staff at its offices around the world (as I write this) are staging a series of walkouts in protest at the company’s treatment of women. It seems a shame to end, what was supposed to be a tribute, on a depressing note. Why do heroes always have feet of clay? But that’s what happens when you start googling stuff, you end up going down avenues you hadn’t intended, and they don’t always lead you to a happy place…