Google is 9 years old and, yesterday at least, it celebrated with one of its famous Google Doodles.
It has seemed to me for a while that the defining technology of our age is not the computer, not the PC, not even the internet. It seems to me that the defining technology of our age is search.
The history of humankind has been about progress in three basic areas: transport, labour and information. There was little difference between the Roman Empire and the Renaissance in terms of how goods were moved, how things were made and how information was stored and transmitted. Then, in succession, we got the printing press, the steam engine, the railway, the telegraph, the internal combustion engine, the assembly line, the telephone and air transport. Computers, PCs and the internet are just steps on the path to making it possible for anything that is in the public domain to be findable in a fraction of a second at any time. Information is becoming friction-free.
If we are in the Search Age then Google are the acknowledged and demonstrable Kings of Search, and I have been trying to remember for a while when I first used Google; when I popped my Google cherry.
Yahoo was there from 1995 of course, which was roughly when I started using the Internet, but it never really did it for me. However, it is hindsight that makes me scornful of the idea of manually reviewing and categorising websites. MSN was pants from the beginning, with Bill Gates trying to create a parallel internet ignoring the one that was there already. My how we laughed. By 1999, I was recommending Wired Magazine’s Hot Bot to colleagues, and throughout 2000 I was using Alta Vista’s useful little Babelfish translation utility though their search engine was rather too biased towards academic science for me. Sometime in 2000 or so my ex recommended Ask Jeeves as a search aggregator but its failure to fulfil on its promise to answer free text questions irritated me. I was google-whaking by 2002, though. My maiden name was a google-whack for ages.
So as near as I can make out, sometime in the 15 months between the summer of 2000 and the early spring of 2001 I googled for the first time.
It’s a cherry I wish I could remember popping.
How about you?