Google is arguably one of the greatest inventions of mankind touching almost every aspect of our lives. As the internet giant turns 20, DW asks people from different walks of life how Google has changed their lives.
'Google became my go-to encyclopedia'
Butch Barksdale, a financial sector professional in Charlotte, United States
Growing up as a teenager, one of my mother's favorite phrases to me was, "Check your Funk and Wagnalls." She usually told me this when either she didn't know the answer to one of my millions of questions or she just wanted me to learn something on my own. So, off I'd go to the living room to a set of 26 encyclopedia volumes to find the answer to whatever question I had. With 26 bound books to choose from, we actually had a piece of furniture dedicated to house them!
Today, I "ask the Google," just like the rest of the computer and smart phone-enabled world. Sometimes I feel guilty for using Google, thinking to myself I should somehow work to gain the knowledge. I also feel like it's important to use Google wisely, ensuring that I trust the sources, much like I did with my Funk and Wagnalls encyclopedia set!
'It has made me adamant'
Shalini Nair, a journalist in Kochi, India
Google has changed my life in two ways. The first is a bit obvious- it's made basic research about practically anything much much easier.
Being a media professional, it is important to know what's happening around you, and when you are saddled with an unexpected assignment without a proper heads-up, the omniscient Google ensures that you at least don't make a fool of yourself in the field.
Just last week, I was sent off to interview the Spanish football star Fernando Moriantes in the last minute. Finding myself without a translator (the man's English is not nearly as flawless as his moves on the pitch), I managed to get a decent 5-minute interaction using broken Spanish, all courtesy Google.
The second change in my life caused by Google is a little more psychological. It's uncanny how we have come to rely on this tool more than our own memory and skill. And when that realization hit home, it left me rather nonplussed. And I decided that I will, at least for the things that I am supposed to know, like vocabulary, grammar and meanings of words, I am going to go old-fashioned and not second guess myself all the time by googling the thing. Yes, in that sense, Google has made me more adamant. One's got to draw the line somewhere, lest one day I find myself actually googling "what is my name?"
'I know more about my clients than most of their friends'
Stephen Crimmins, an attorney in Washington DC
When I get a new Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) [the US market regulator] case to defend, I begin by Google-searching all of the parties involved in the transaction involved in the case. The information edge this provides gives me a tactical advantage over my opposing counsel and it lets me give my client a level representation that 20 years ago could only be achieved by working with a large and expensive team.
And before I meet with anyone on business (or cross-examine them in court!), Google tells me more about them than most of their friends know. Outside of work, Google effectively gives me the benefit of a large research library on demand on my smartphone, no matter where I am.
'It scares me'
Fred Muvunyi, a Rwandan journalist based in Germany
Google is the leading search engine tool that has been very useful to my career as a journalist. It provides all types of information that one single person can barely keep in his head. The google drive is a databank that provides an easy-to-use mobile storage that can keep your critical data and accessible all the time one goes online. Google is the bank of nearly all articles and knowledge that have been published online.
But honestly, it scares me. Google is like "A Must-Friend" that I have to rely on and share all my secrets. I don't know who is behind it, but I entrusted it with all my essential data. I can't access the digital and communication apps downloadable at app store or android without Google's support. I barely remember the spellings and the worst of all- If I need to know anything; I hardly look into written books. I turn to uncle Google for help.
'Google took my mother's role'
Karen Johnson, an English teacher in Washington DC
Growing up, I watched Jeopardy on TV with my mother, who shouted answers at the screen in rapid-fire excitement. I mimicked my mother and grew up to crave trivia, and I actually got a spot on a high school TV trivia quiz show. But I knew I could always count on my mother to know the answer to any question that stumped me.
Then one day I looked around and realized there was no one near who could answer my questions. No one. Who's going to know the answer? That was my biggest question and it frightened me. Who can I ask?
And then one day — Google happened. Now, stumped questions are "googlable." This isn't googlable information, but most of my questions are.