By ‘Sola Fagorusi
Until 2001, the word Google meant nothing. Today, it is both a noun and a verb. My computer does not underline it as a spelling error. The only remotely close words to it – goggle and goggles means to stare wide-eyed and a protective eye glass respectively. There is almost nothing that Google can’t search out. It’s intriguing the even the word Google can be Googled! Google has conquered all facets of our internet lives. It is the kingpin of the new media family. Anyone today who uses the internet would have contact with one or several of Google products.
The list grows a little less fast than weeds! Chrome browser, Google Calender, Google News, Google Maps, YouTube, Blogger, Picasa, Google+, Google Alerts, Google Scholar, Google Groups, Google Trader, Gmail, Google Hangouts, Google drive and others. The search engine which was Google’s first product and which conferred name on the company, is the world’s most patronised. The King of the internet is fast swallowing space in the technology sphere having its hands in all pies. Students and researchers would remain indebted to this tool that has changed the face of scholarship.
Google, the company, today has web based products, operating systems like the Android for Smart phones, hardware like the Nexus, desktop applications like the Google toolbar and also mobile applications. Given the huge meta-data that Google has to deal with on regular basis, it is today the biggest server company in the world. With cloud technology catching up heavily on use now, this title may hold for a very long time. Also trail blazing by Google is the Google Glass, one of the most clairvoyant and far reaching advances in the new media age. It is one of the few technologies merging strongly the activities of humans and computers and it is currently on a lone journey with no known competitor – at least known to the public.
Off the record, Google is my best friend and I love the Google Doodles. Checking them out has become more of a passive obsession. Trying to imagine what the next one would be is also a game in itself. Then Google dedicated its doodle last year to the victims of Nigeria’s Dana Air Flight 992 June 3rd 2012 crash in an empathetic public relations stunt. It is rational to ask if our over-dependence on Google would not come at a cost some day. With Google as a form of transactional memory which we rely on when the need is at hand, is the human brain not becoming redundant? But then, there’s also the argument that the brain now has access to more information in lesser time than it used to previously. It is also not just about the memory, there’s also the issue of refusing to keep our hard disks and memories chips busy with information storage for later use when we are sure that all we need do is Google it when next we need it. Humanity can only hope that the internet and Google holds for as long as humans exist. To Google is human after all and possible not to Google is silly! Google is human’s all-knowing and knowledgeable oracle. Definitely more powerful than Paul the Octopus!
Soon, I pre-empt that Google would be named the Parent of the Year! Young people would seem to find their answers to life and living through Google. Except you refuse to ask, that is only when Google would refuse to tell. The easy access to the internet would mean easy access to Google as well. In well developed environments, it would no longer count to know the address and location of a friend’s place again as long as the friend can email or text the address to you. Google Map would do the ‘magic’. May the day we can’t Google again never come!
Google is equally a sound test of fame. Does Google know you? If you attempt to search your name and it auto fills, then the answer is yes. The very popular and addictive website has become man’s most prominent artificial intelligence amplifying the human cause and worth. Like every other growing organisation, it has also had it shares of failed products and discontinued ones. Google Buzz and more recently Google Reader which was discontinued on July 1st, 2013 are some of the over 80 products. A number of them have been harmonised and formed into another product and a couple of others have simply been rested in Google’s rich graveyard. Knowing when to do this is one of Google’s strengths. Altavista which used to be a rival to Google at conception has faded away. Others like Bing, MSN, Lycos, Excite and Yahoo Search struggle to survive under the domineering shadow of Google the search engine. Google, like other web platforms have had a number of glitches and reverted quickly and given Microsoft’s Internet explorer a run for its money with Google Chrome.
Google has helped reduce unemployment in Nigeria and around the world. Anyone today, irrespective of age can develop an android based app, put it up on Google Play and earn from the downloads. Young people can also today put up blogs and sites and earn from their contents when Google AdSense starts sending adverts their way. Its imprints in Nigeria is also bold especially with the .ng extension allowing for platforms like Google Trader which allows people list their products and services for free in localised ways. In addition, it has also saved advertisement cost for companies. Google is responsible for the upward surge in online advert patronage through her effective system, knowing from the backend exactly who wants what.
Google’s Chairman Eric Schmidt posits that Google's aspiration ‘is to be your assistant, to know what you don't know and to get that information to you in whatever way it is quickest.’ Founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while still PhD students at Stanford University, it was initially called ‘Backrub’. The domain name www.google.com was registered in 1997 while Google as a company came to be in 1998. By 2012, the company was already declaring annual revenue of about $50 billion mainly through Google AdWords with monthly unique visitor of over 1 billion.
Already, 39% of the world’s population have internet access and it is predicted that internet business will grow 10 times in the next three years. Google will have a part to play in this and a commensurate profit share as well.
And if you need to read this article a couple of years from now – Google it!
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