Monday, February 6, 2012

An Open Letter By Google



Dear Users,


I always wanted to present my version of the Great Search Engine story, hence this letter. I hope this open letter puts an end to all the blame game doing the rounds.Let me start on an amusing note. Well, I just read the following news item and almost fell off my bed, laughing.

 
‘Falling classroom standards and a shift towards creative learning have led to school children in UK believing that ‘Winston Churchill is an animated dog, called Churchill from a TV advertisement, rather than one of Britain’s greatest wartime leaders’. Other students even struggle to differentiate between France and Paris, says a former deputy head teacher. She claims that teaching basic knowledge, facts and figures is fast disappearing from class rooms as it is considered old-fashioned’.


Seriously, how lame is that! You can’t shun basic general knowledge, can you? Fine, you are hooked on to the internet, but then you need to jog your memory or it will dodge you one day. The day is not far when you will need me to search for the name of your President, or the capital of your home state. I often wonder whether I am stifling general knowledge, just as calculators choked mathematical skills?
Undoubtedly, there is something about me that has changed the world. And how! Only yesterday when a mother was reprimanding her five year old son for his illegible handwriting, her elder daughter intervened, “Why are you mad at him mom? When he grows up, no one will write. Teach him keyboarding instead.”


Now, this worries me to death. I fear that after the gradual withering of memorizing abilities, writing skills might soon become decadent. What then happens to those calligraphy books, which school children have to complete during summer holidays in order to perfect that faultless ‘g’? With calligraphy becoming redundant, the spelling bee contests which Indian students win repeatedly will become meaningless too. I mean, why would anyone need to memorize spellings when the spell checker is at your service? And what’s more? You send documents with embarrassing mistakes that the spell-checker fails to pick up. Like, “She took up her new position in pubic affairs.” One lazy dude almost ended his marriage when he typed, “I love you my previous wife.” The moron wanted to say ‘precious’ not ‘previous’.
 

But honestly, am I making folks lazy? Or stupid? Or both?
Lazy, perhaps! Stupid, I’m not sure.
Little surprise then, that the present day writers do not visit libraries any more. And why should they? Just a few clicks, links, and hyperlinks and almost magically any information is available. How difficult it is for you to comprehend the fact that I can only dispense information. Wisdom and intellect are not my forte! Indeed, I have registered a tight slap on the face of the system of rote learning. Remember that certain degrees of memorizing abilities are required for social sciences, general knowledge and languages. How else can one memorize preambles and texts based on religion? 


Let me move on to my pet peeve. What's this obsession with the three letter word? I fail to understand why you relentlessly search for it over and over again? I am sick and tired of searching related videos and pictures. At the very kernel of the maddening search are two ladies Sunny Leone and Katrina Kaif.As recently as last month, all I did was to run after the sassy simpering pictures of both girls.


Returning back to the 'stupidity debate' it would take someone more than a little naive to believe that I the root cause for the rampant stupidity. If anything, you are complicit in numbing the grey cells. I simply alter the way your brain functions. 
After all, wasn’t it a concoction of intellect and knowledge that led to my birth? Remember, a lot depends on how you use me.

Dude, now don’t go looking for answers by typing  ‘Is Google making us stupid’.
Think.


Yours truly

Google




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70 comments:

  1. Interesting and funny.

    Banning Google is akin to the punishment meted out to our old scientists who said that the world is round. Shameful.

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    1. Its shameful and also impossible....China couldnt curb it.

      Delete
  2. Good one Alka! I too have same fears that instead of using modern technology to assist, over dependence leads to disastrous results as faux pas mentioned in your post:)

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    1. There is too much dependence....it is making us lazy...the memorizing faculties are getting blunted.

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  3. Of course Google is making us stupid, but do we care! It's our extended memory, reliable PA, storehouse of links that I might need for my next write-up!

    There was a time I used to keep newspaper cuttings, now I just bookmark them.

    Thank God for Google!

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    1. Thats true Purba,

      I agree with you,, I feel technology does not make us stupid..
      it may make us lazy..

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    2. It has made our lives easier....esp for writers. However writing, memorizing and cognitive skills are taking a beating.Remember how we used to practice calligraphy during summer holidays in junior school?

      Delete
  4. Google has taken away the hard work which although benefits us but hampers learning a lot. These days all assigments submitted even in professional institutes are a result of Google and not any slogging in library which is sad

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    1. There are two sides to a coin...it has made life easier but writing, memorizing and cognitive skills have taken a beating.

      Did you find a good room mate?

      Delete
  5. Google, is a search engine, and we have to learn to use it that way! I seriously think that Google is God!
    If you search for something on Google, then you should have the ability to sift through the information to get your relevant information.
    And, unless YOU know, what you are looking for, Google can never find it for you!
    So Google is not making you stupid, it is actually making you work very hard find the right information! :)

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    1. What about writing, memorizing and calligraphic skills?

      Delete
  6. Google is making us silly for sure BUT on the other hand so much knowledge at the click of a button is much better.

    Stuff that took ages to compile can now be done in a jiffy SO i dont find anything wrong with Google its a good thing.

    so what it is making us look stupid, Looks dont matter DO THEY :)

    Bikram's

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    1. Silly and lazy...dimag par zor nahin dalna padta...But remember Bikram how we used to practice handwriting and memorizing those darn history dates? Everything is at the click of a button.

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  7. What google banned in India is still visible in rest of the world, so, they only allowed rest of the world to laugh at the jokes cracked on them!

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    1. They are a bunch of jokers from another planet....they cant comprehend basic things....like banning doesnt solve a problem..it creates one.

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  8. Well it is making us handicapped at a slow pace no doubt about that...the points u highlighted s harsh reality.
    Nice mokery at some stages..good slap at times..;)

    Love
    Mani

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    1. U r right, we have become lazy as Google has made our life easier..but we cant bid goodbye to basic knowledge, facts and figures can we?

      love

      Delete
  9. It is indeed shocking the way children are relying more and more on the computer and finding information that they rightfully should be studying or learning. But as you have pointed out, there is a difference between information and knowledge, and the latter can't be gained unless one put some effort to learn things. But banning it is the most near-sighted thing that can be done by a myopic state.

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    1. We have to learn to use this new technology in a way so that we gain maximum out of it without sacrificing our cognitive skills.One has to be aware thats it.

      Delete
  10. Alka,

    A relevant post. There is a big difference between knowledge and information. Certain things need to be learnt and retained in brain while we may use Google for getting information. It should be a tool for help and not a thing to be dependent upon, without which we can not function. You can not have a doctor or an engineer using Google all the time to perform his or her tasks. Or for that matter any profession where knowledge is needed.

    Take care

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    1. You are right about the differences between knowledge and information....

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  11. That was an interesting read...google sure does make us silly and i feel its goin to get worse in the times to come. Everything is just too ready made these days.

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    1. New technology should be used in a way so that we gain maximum out of it without sacrificing our cognitive skills.

      Delete
  12. hahahahaha, couldnt stop laughing. seriously how lame people can get and why blame it on google. we didnt stop multiplying and dividing when calculators came along. why stop reading or brushing up current affairs

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    1. You are so right...but when the calculator is lying next to me, I tend to go for it ( I am mathematically challenged)...But Google sure has made life easy.
      Only there are no chances for romance left...in the dusty libraries that is..Remember Bobby, Sarfarosh.

      Delete
  13. All I want to say is "thank you Google" :-)

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  14. Hey, I typed a long reply on my phone, then kaput! Now, would that have happened had I been writing it on a paper? Turns out, I am writing an entirely different comment compared to the previous one. This is not new to me, this fizzling out of comments before I have a chance to post them. This also reinforces the basic principle of life and matters related to it: There are pros and cons to most situations. In cases of technological advances however, you have more pros than cons. For instance, advent of guns may have stifled the art of fencing but it has been a significant advancement in human capabilities for assault. Keyboards may be spelling death to the art of writing but they have given it another edge. They are a lot faster, organised and malleable. You can edit, insert, delete, modify, beautify and even rewrite things at your sweet will. Can you imagine that happening to a handwritten page? No. I don't want the forthcoming generations to forget how to write. That would be tragic, indeed. You may get stranded or marooned due to a war, an aircrash or a natural calamity. Or you may just end up being computerless like me for a period of 10 days recently. I wrote my last post, "My son. must I stay?" in a copy. I remember having modified the draft at a few places, afterwards. Now that I think of it, it is an excellent tell-tale write-up. Any one going through it would instantly know the initial outpouring and then the afterthoughts. But wait, that is not all! Even typing is a vanishing art! No, I don't have in mind the touch typists. Recently, I needed an affidavit typed in Hindi. The typist I approached used an English keyboard and typed it out phonetically! It set me thinking: there wouldn't be many Hindi keyboards around anymore. Then you have SIRI. The famous virtual assistant introduced by Apple in Iphones. It types out whatever you say, messages, mails and notes. Searches out a directory or a map for you and what not you have. The point is, whether applications like SIRI will render keyboards, touchscreens and even computer programmes useless? They will. And it will not be a sad development. Like we have forgotten how to light up fire with stones. All this, of course, doesn't mean I am against calligraphy. On the contrary, I received more prizes and medals than I could count, when a child. I was a calligrapher, par excellence!

    Hey, I remembered my original comment! Remember Beni Halwai of Jaunpur? His shop was known to have produced arguably the most wickedly delicious Imartees on this earth. Circa 1978, it was discovered that the man was lacing the sweet doodles with pig fat. When the news broke out, his men stood at the railway and bus stations to whisk away each and every bit of newspaper finding its way to Jaunpur. Could they obliterate the fire? Not for long. In fact, it gave rise to worse rumours. Some said he was using pig shit! I do not believe the shop has been able to retrace its original glory ever since.

    Thanks for giving me the chance for spewing foam. Good writings have always that effect on me. Don't know if I made any sense though!

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    1. This comment means a lot. I had written a long article on this topic after a known journalist requested me to write for her website.This was a 2000 word article and came into being after some research. However when the website was uploaded my article was rejected ( oft repeated story). I snipped it for my blog. Unlike yourself most blog readers want it short and funny. Since Blogging is more of back scratching, few have commented without reading the post.
      Now that I have spewed my venom here, I am delighted with your comment.Fizzling of your initial comment and its analogy with life hints that you are hurting after your fathers demise. Time is perhaps the answer to that. It doesnt heal, but it reduces the hurt.
      With the advent of new technology and new skills to develop some skills have to die a natural death. But cognitive skills should not be one of them.Thanks for making a lot of sense.

      Delete
    2. Back to back commenting on Umashankar's comment :) Just replied in the comment thread of his at Purba's blog. Sounds like both our mind waves have a very similar frequency on few subjects.

      My mom was aghast other day to see my handwriting, She was telling me I had a good handwriting during my study days and whatever happened to it now? Well, Darwin's theory , I should say. Somethings are inevitable and humans learn to adapt and better himself inspite of huge loss of abilities during the evolutionary process. As we progressed we forgot many of our own sensory powers that "the lesser" animals possess coz we placed our bets on other source. So evolution will take its own course - will make corrections too. Yes, it is alarming to visualize certain scenarios ... Ok, now i need to copy paste the comment into word to check the spell errors :P You see i lost the instinctive ability to catch the spell errors ;)

      Delete
    3. Lakshmi,

      The fact that you read this post means a lot. You are right, we are developing new skills with the advent of technology at the cost of some others like memorizing, calligraphy.....

      Delete
  15. Agree to most of it... we have become lazy and over dependent on search engines ,,Gone are the days when we learnt everything by heart and had focus on better writings But with times ..the technology that came has its own flaws too...
    My four yr old who handles a laptop very well has such good image memory recognizes google n you-tube he is not far frm writing e-mails ..and opening search engine..I was looking at him one day how he copy-pastes the spelling goin into history of you-tube and then pasting it on google ..amazed me since he cannot read n write properly :p this method he made to find his own games n stuff ..lol
    another thing I would like to mention here..these search engines has also made us smart in one way as nobody can fool us ..anymore ..you know abt your rights ..as well as well as where we have to go and whom we have to approach...

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    1. New technology should be used in a way so that we gain maximum out of it without sacrificing our cognitive skills.Perhaps, children will show us the way.

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  16. Yes it is now Google all the way. Just the other day i was telling my daughter... in our days we had to embrace the library, in yours it is to embrace technology.

    I think the onus lies with schools to draw boundaries and think on how much of Googling is ok for a student. The good old habit of thinking cannot be done away with and kids at school need to practice that.Once the basic skills are taught at school, i guess from then on we can relie on Google. When the whole world is changing, do you have much choice?

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    1. in our days we had to embrace the library, in yours it is to embrace technology....so very apt.

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  17. Thank God for google. I did not understand how dumbing down of syllabus at school is related to google. If the educational standards are falling then technological advances are not to be blamed for that. I think google is a good substitute for referencing. Who wants to run to libraries or newspaper archives for the sake of nostalgia. As far as reading and writing skills are concerned that is more to do with general decline in good language and good teachers. Kids, in India, are still reading from books and writing in books, but the standards are surely on the decline.

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    1. Google sure had made our life easier and enriched it too...I only hope that cognitive skills do not die at the expense of technology.

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  18. Bravo for the aside on the censorship issue too!
    Google and Wiki are the 2 most relied upon info sources today!

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  19. I have already started to forget spelling of even simple words because of spell check. Nice article, Alka

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    1. I am so glad you liked it...Honestly, I have always wanted you to visit my blog.Thanks.It means a lot.

      Delete
  20. Fantastic topic to blog about.
    Google makes me lazy. Not stupid because I still choose what I want to and reject what I do not.
    But there are other issues. Like Siri (umashankar has pointed out) of iPhone. We will be slaves of computer. Interestingly though, in yesterday's Economic Times was the interview of Richard Stallman. The maker of GNU (GNU not Unix. Great acronym. The full form leads to another acronym). What Richard Stallman stands for is exactly opposite to Siri and where IT of today is leading us to. Freedom to make software the way we want to.
    The three major internet giants has/ makes available details of us unknown to us. This is wrong. Where is the freedom? In fact Stallman is against UDI project of India too. UDI data may be available to unscrupulous elements. What is the solution then? Yes, freedom to make/adapt the software as advocated by Stallman.
    Seems a great guy to me. Simple living. Frugal lifestyle. And high in principles.
    But alas, I do not have it much in me to be like him. Limited in steadfastness. Lacking courage.

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    1. You are right, Google makes one lazy. But it sure has made life easier like most other technological advancements. My only fear is that new software and new technology should not kill our cognitive skills....some of them are required at all times. Perhaps we will develop new skill sets at the cost of older ones, like Uma said.
      You may not be like Stallman, but you sure have certain skill sets which he doesnt.

      Delete
  21. We have lost tack of vocabulary, punctuation,spellings.
    Every thing is rady made.

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    1. That is the price we pay for modernization...

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  22. We want the info at tip of our fingers asap. That's why probably lazy, yes!

    This reminded me, for our dissertation we had almost searched half of library for the info and thinking of this now we are losing the feeling of a book in our hand.

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  23. Totally agree; indeed many other things of the modern world are also responsible for the dumbing down of society and killing inquisitiveness of people.

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    1. @Poonam....True.

      @sunbyanyname...Welcome here.I hope cognitive skills do not die at the expense of technology.

      Delete
  24. Made for a very interesting read, Alka. Can't believe Google grumbling at all the attention he is getting.

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  25. And, I don't like google baba revamping blogspot.com into .in

    Weakest LINK

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    1. @Rachna...Just wanted to make it different...else people take it as lecturing.



      @Rachit....Me neither.

      Delete
  26. This certainly forced me to think. You are right. We do depend on the net instead of using the old noodle. And just to prove your point I searched for the "Advantages and Disadvantages of the Internet" and came up with millions of hits. Jayashri Pakhare has written a very nice one on the topic. No, I won't put in the link - go find it yourselves :-)

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    1. I am glad you liked....and ha, ha...you made me work....

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  27. Ha ha , some time back i and my friend were discussing the same , we have become so dependent on Google, that people use google to search the items in their house .

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    1. You feel that too? It sure is making us lazy....

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  28. Very right you are..in fact not only kids..elders have also been at it..its so easy to be an encyclopedia ..with Google at hand

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  29. Maitreyee,


    I hope cognitive skills do not die at the expense of technology.You are so right...but when the calculator is lying next to me, I tend to go for it rather than jogging my brain.
    But Google sure has made life easy.
    Only there are no chances for romance left...in the dusty libraries that is..Remember Bobby, Sarfarosh.

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  30. I am one of those who do not appreciate technology much ( hypocritic as it may sound from an engineer :P ). The line that demarcates "means-ends" is slimming down, thanks to technology abuse. I had people back in college who copied the lab reports for experiments from scribd.com...

    Having said that, it all depends on the one who uses technology. What that person seeks- excellence or mere completion of job. Its a choice really, isn't it ? Use or be used by it...

    To quote Star Wars, "The line must be drawn here! This far, no further!" by each one of us for ourselves... :P

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    1. You have nailed it...depends on how we use it....lest We get used!

      Delete
  31. "How difficult it is for you to comprehend the fact that I can only dispense information. Wisdom and intellect are not my forte!"

    Everything is sooooo Google related now Alks, that it is really sad...and when you say writers don't visit the libraries any more I almost rose my hand to plead guilty...although browsing through the web is not my kind of thing.

    but then really, writing stuff on the net is so easy that it makes writers out of just about anyone. I have communicated with two bloggers who write impeccable posts on their pages-grammatically perfect and their spoken English left me so dazed like I had been hit by a thunderbolt...

    sad state of affairs!

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    1. You are right its easier to write with the aid of spell checker. What concerns me is the lack of basic GK and cognitive skills.

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  32. If google will short supply useful material then how am I going to make precise jokes on MPs? :(

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    1. Now That is the only amusing factor in our lives...

      The neta log provide so much fodder for fun.

      Delete
    2. No no. Those ander ki baats which generally does not appear on India TV

      Delete
  33. Guess What? I did went and searched google for "Is Google making humans stupid".
    Google has made us lazy. It's nothing to blame google. But we conveniently neglected the conventional cursive writings and calligraphy! How many times do we write in paper these days? Hardly for signatures! It would be such a shame if writing in paper becomes extinct!

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  34. If you did I am not sure whether u stumbled on an interesting article by Nicholas Carr on the same topic...With e commerce and telephone transactions even signatures will become outdated.

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  35. nice article but..... perhaps its the same way with everything -- 'How we use it - be it science & its inventions, Internet with Google - the Search Engine, opportunities & skills in real life & so on....' One of the most eluding decision to make is to decide where to draw a line and not going further, beyond it.

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  36. Good one! Seriously tried searching "does google make humans stupid";)

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  37. my 8 and 11 year old nieces google for school projects:)

    That apart, i guess it is the flipside of technology which is creating such problems. As an editor at a blog, I'm aware how stupid technology is - once the copy that went out had 'professional carrier' instead of 'career', which is deeply embarasing!

    I guess educational organisations need to have a deeper foresight of the times we are living in and the times that will come. till then, it is a funny, scary and sometimes disturbing trend, especially when i watch my nieces.

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  38. amazingly written.
    for all the intellectuals world over, and people pursuing their passion, be it sciences, arts, history, engg, or medical, internet has been a great boon. Similarly, for knowledge whores like me, nothing beats wikipedia. I never learnt things as fast in my school life at home than i am learning here in my college campus with internet connection. life is unimaginable without wikipedia now.

    it's the lazy people, stuck by inertia, lack of growth, dynamism and passion in their life, who make this a dull pond, full of vegetative growth.

    kudos :)
    keep writing

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