Google addiction, or search addiction?

[This is a response to Prof. Macek’s second blog prompt].

We’ve been discussing Google off-and-on for the past two class periods, and I’ve thought a bit more about it as I’ve been brainstorming my response to this blog prompt. Are people becoming addicted to Google? Am I addicted to Google?

I rely heavily on Google’s services in my everyday life: Gmail stores and indexes my email, Google Calendar helps me keep track of my classes and other activities, Google Reader notifies me when blogs I read are updated, and Google search… well… searches, quickly finding information I need for school or for fun. I must admit that it’s difficult to imagine a life without Google, but I’m not sure my Google use constitutes an addiction. If Google were to disappear tomorrow, then I would be lost at first, but I would adapt, and adapt quickly. Eventually, I’m certain, other companies would come to offer comparable replacements for the Google services I presently use.

If I’m not a Google addict, though, what can explain how deeply integrated Google products have become with life? The real issue, I think, is much more general: I’m addicted to search. I gravitative to Google because Google does search better than any other company I’ve yet seen, but it’s the final product that has me hooked, not the brand.

It seems rather cliché to say that the ability to search electronic data fundamentally alters a person’s thought processes, but—in my case, at least—it’s true. I find myself increasingly relying on search to find information that I would once have memorized. Why force myself to commit things to memory (an often tedious process) when I can look them up in just a few seconds?

I’ve also noticed a change in the way I manage my own data. A few years ago, for example, I was quite studious in organizing my bookmarks. I made folders, subfolders, and subsubfolders in abundance, placing each Web site into just the right place in my categorization scheme. All that changed when I started using social bookmarking services (first Delicious, then Pinboard). I now label my bookmarks with fairly self-explanatory tags, and my once arcane way of cataloging Web sites has been greatly simplified. What sparked this change? Search! By storing my bookmarks online and tagging them, I can now easily find a given Web site using my bookmark service’s search engine.

Yes, my name is Jon, and I’m a search addict. Is that a good thing? I’m not sure, but I’m inclined to say that it is. Search enables me obtain and use information in a highly efficient manner, and I think this will outweigh any potential drawbacks my search addiction might have.

About Jon

Christian, dude, geek, student, hacker, weirdo, King of Awesomeness
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