Considering I’m old enough that I had to find factual answers by going to the library, search through card catalogs or browse shelves, find a volume, and then read until I found the answer, Google has certainly transformed the world. Some might argue that this transition of age came sooner, but I disagree. I lived through the transition.
My dad was on the cutting edge of the computer revolution and his first computer was a cassette player/recorder, black & white TV, and a keyboard. He recalls a story occasionally about one of his first searches on the “Internet” (It was a much more advanced PC running DOS, with a c-prompt.). He searched for “Georgia Peaches” for my grandmother and was quite shocked with the results… Those were the days we needed to know the difference between “or” and “xor” if you had any hope of finding what you wanted and Archie rarely brought back what you were actually looking for at the top of the page. With some of the later versions the ability to type conversational questions started to emerge, but it was truly Google that made it possible to find factual information at your fingertips.
But what makes this so striking, is the difference of generations and perceived technological advances. My parents were proud because we were in a position to have a TV in the house, whereas for them to have seen TV as young children was considered a special treat. The TV was never a necessity in my childhood, nor do I have one that connects to the outsider world (we watch DVDs on it).
Now, my generation looks at these youngsters with amazement as they have come to depend on the Internet as if there would be no meaningful life without it. I must admit that Denise and I rely very heavily on IMBd; rarely do we watch a movie anymore without looking to see where we “knew” some actor/actress from a previous movie or TV program. Before that level of knowledge was available, we simply pondered it and might discuss it with friends and family to try and recall. Now we just look. Which begs the question, “Was that pondering we did good for us?” If the answer is yes, then what does that say about this generation who will never have that opportunity?