By Stefan Sojka
In some ways it is hard to believe I am writing this post, but there seems to be something very strange about human nature that we keep needing to be reminded of the most mind-numbingly obvious things.
Google. A single text input field and a button. You don't even need to click that button, just hit your "Enter/Return" key. It is probably even sitting there in your browser, so you don't even need to go to Google's Website.
Type in anything and hit "Enter/Return". Google's multi-billion dollar infrastructure and programming code developed by the world's most brilliant coders and evolved over a decade or more, will come right back at you, in an instant, with millions of results, including maps, adverts, images, videos, tweets and PDF files. In fact BEFORE you even finish typing, Google has already started guessing what you are searching for and making a bunch of suggestions to help you.
By any measure, this experience is phenomenal, bordering on miraculous. Google is so ubiquitous it has been added to the Oxford English Dictionary as an official verb in the English language.
So why do we keep asking each other so many questions? What is it in human psychology that forgets the existence of Google just when we need it most? People seem to prefer ringing up their business supplier or associate to ask questions that they surely must know Google will be able to answer far more effectively and comprehensively than the poor victim of their enquiry at the other end of the phone.
"I'm getting an error message 'XYZ876765463543', do you know what the problem is?" No I don't. Just Google it.
"Can you suggest a good solution for problem X?" Maybe I could, but maybe I am not the world authority on anything and my solution might not be ideal. Just Google it.
Even if I did know that particular error message code, or solution, I would have to spend 15 minutes explaining it to you – 15 minutes that you will be outraged if I billed you for – when you could have found the answer in less time than it took to dial my number. You could have read all about it yourself and actually learned something while you are at it – for free. Through Google's search results, you could access entire communities of solution providers, consultants and advisers who are more than happy to go to great lengths explaining the subtleties of email program version compatibility issues on their Websites to anyone who stops by.
Not only that, but the more you Google, the better you get at it. You can even Google how to be a better Googler! There are many tricks to help you zoom in on more accurate results or dig deeper to discover hidden resources that might not always come up on your very first search.
We are all guilty of not Googling when we should have. We simply keep forgetting that Google is there when we need it. We sit there agonising over some issue or other, rather than realising that someone else has not only done the agonising for us, but they have posted it all on their blog. We wonder if we should embark on a new business venture with a brilliant idea we just had, without taking the very first step of checking to see if it has already been done.
Google may be in the dictionary. It may provide instant access to an infinite array of information, but we still haven't evolved Google as a reflex action to our thought processes. It is perhaps a simple behaviour change, to pull ourselves up when we find ourselves faced with questions and problems and ask whether we will get a better answer from the humans in our immediate real-world vicinity or from the 2+billion crowd of helpful strangers online.
Make it a new affirmation, a mantra or simply write it on a post it note and stick it on your forehead – "Just Google it!" It will be the ultimate 'win-win'. You get your answer and the person you were about to call will be left in peace... : )