Tuesday, April 23, 2013

In Search Of . . .




At some point during my sort of busy weekend, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and came upon a post that made me giggle:  “Random thought: what did you Google today?”

I wish now I’d taken the time to jot down an answer just so I’d have gotten the notifications to see what sort of responses showed up, because now I don’t even remember who posted it.  (Apologies if it’s someone who might actually see this!)  Anyway, I think it’s an interesting question, since I know I’m not the only one to use the amazing search engine to find out strange and wondrous things.

At the time I saw the post, my only searching of the day had been homework related, so just a few legal terms and concepts.  And it’s a rare day that goes by that I don’t add a few more of those to my search history.  But since then, every time I’ve popped over to do a quick look, that post has popped back into my mind.

So, yeah, the parol evidence rule and extinction of contracts have recently shown up for me, as have Big Papi, Lyrid meteors, frog sounds, a quick refresher on the proper usages of affect/effect and lay/lie, Earth Day, and Miranda exceptions for public safety (I’m probably not alone in that last one). 

And, I remember back in our more prolific fanfiction-writing days, my friends and I used to joke that if we were ever suspected of any sort of criminal activity, our browser histories would likely sink us, since we very commonly searched techniques from lock-picking to murder, as well as the statutes applicable to whatever crime we might want to commit and the defenses to go along with them.  Fun Google times there.  (And just a little bit scary, the kind of information you can find with so little effort.)

As someone who grew up in the days of making trips to the library to search through volumes of bound encyclopedias and the card catalogue to find whatever tidbits of information I might need to know, I seriously love Google.  And while encyclopedias certainly provided some tangential information and entertainment when you’d stumble across something interesting that you weren’t really looking for, it’s nothing compared to the hidden wonders that await in the vast land that is the interwebs.  I mean, who hasn’t been lured by "just one more” random link that showed up on your Google quest?  I know that I’ve certainly lost many an hour just moving from page to page, reading through the most arbitrary assortment of information, not precisely remembering any of it, but knowing that should those random topics come up at some point in the future, I’d be ready to at least participate in the conversation.  You’d never get that sort of immersion from an encyclopedia.

Don’t get me wrong; there’s still something magical about walking into a library and browsing through the stacks, but that’s a much broader appeal to stumbling across something new and exciting rather than actually trying to find a particular piece of information.  I’m not even sure libraries still have printed encyclopedias, much less card catalogues.  Research will likely never be the same as it was back in my youth, but I’m not convinced that’s entirely a bad thing, not when the replacement method is so darn handy.  Yeah, we might lose something of the wonder of hard-copy books and the institutional reverence of the local library, but when you’ve got worlds of information available at the touch of a button—even on a phone wherever you go!—I think it’s probably worth a few sacrifices.

So, tell me, what have you Googled today?