Is Google Making Us Stupid?

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A couple of decades ago research would have meant a trip to the library and hours of poring over voluminous books trying to get the information needed. Even then, there would be no guarantee that the library one went to would have the requisite books. Fast forward to the present and any information needed or any author to be referred to can be accessed on the Internet with a click or two – the most favored search engine being Google. The Internet has shrunk the world to the QWERTY keyboard and now information of all kinds is available on the go, anywhere in the world.

The Google revolution

No one technological tool has captured the imagination of the world as has Google. From professors to doctors, scientists to teachers, students to housewives, from billionaires to entrepreneurs- all of them at some point or other use Google – some of them at least once a day. Google as a search engine is fast, accurate and easy to use. It produces results as close to the search words as possible. The use of Google has become so all pervasive that it is now used as a verb instead of just as a product name. We now google things we want to look up on the internet.

What makes it so popular?

One wonders whether the founders of Google, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, ever dreamt that the search engine they developed would capture the imagination of the netizens as it has and change the world way the world searched for information. One can have any information in seconds of keying in the words / topics one needs – and not just from one source, but from multiple sources. Hyperlinks attached to the article/ document one is reading takes the reader to related links or sites. Writing becomes very easy as quotations, information and anecdotes of any year or era are easily accessible.

In today’s knowledge society, access to information, which hitherto had to be stored in the memory, is at one’s fingertips and this makes way for the person to use his thinking faculties for more creative purposes. It is assumed that it helps people to move from lower order thinking skills to higher order thinking skills as propounded by Blooms. One can safely say that in the creative world that we live in today, Google opens up the doors of opportunity and connect people beyond land and race.

The naysayers

Just as with every new invention, people predicted that Google spelt the end of man’s capacity to think for himself. The naysayers say that Google has diminished the capacity of an average person to read books or concentrate on large volumes of text, having gotten used to skimming over numerous articles on the net and flitting from one hyperlink to the other, reading a few sentences here and there. Having such large amounts of information at one’s fingertips have totally made obsolete the requirement to remember things – and like the mobile phone and calculator, have made memory rusted and weak. It is argued that Google is nurturing a generation of superficial thinkers who cannot stick to any task for long and that with prolonged addiction to it, cognition is impaired.

A useful tool

Google has, along with other search engines, many advantages:

  • Google has opened up the exciting world to people who may or not have access to it otherwise.
  • It ignites the mind with knowledge, increases brain activity and gives the searcher access to information from every nook and corner of the world.
  • It helps the user to read related texts, skim for information, analyze it and take what is required from it.
  • Useful suggestions pop up in the form of hyperlinks.
  • Unlike Television which makes viewers passive recipients of pre- programmed data/ shows, the user is, most of the time, in command of what he wants to search for on Google.

All said and done, Google is a tool – whether the tool makes you stupid or smart, depends on how you use the tool.

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