In 2008 the Atlantic had a great article by Nicholas Carr titled “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Carr says
What the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.
Learning how to successfully harness an inquiry by conducting effective research on Google taking ownership of ones own learning is the secret to becoming a life-long learner. It’s a vital trait too. There are many people who talk about the dangers of Google, yet how many people do you mix with that do not access this service 5-25 times a day?
Are attempts from a author to attach a ticket price to information from Google more worrying? An ebook on how to market with Facebook will set you back $25 on one website. For the person that told you “I can just google it” they can seemingly now do this with one hand while holding a credit card in the other. Presto!
Where does this fit in in a wider marketing context? How has this been tested? Is this latest trick replicating something done previously? Is there an opposing view available?
Google at times seems like an excuse for us to concentrate less on what’s in front of us, leaning on Google for anything we can’t remember. If businesses use Google to solely solve business/marketing challenges then they are rolling the dice.
This is compounded when we go to a source that, we think, appears trustworthy or at least well intentioned. There are hundreds of these in the social media space. At best we receive information often with limited local context. For example, at time of writing Twitter Cards are not widely available in Australia however they are in some overseas territories. For every reputable website there are probably 100 that are full of information that’s inaccurate, unreliable or worse.
It is one thing to feed ourselves (and others) with trivial facts and information we can easily get online, it is another to receive value, context or broad perspective and strategy when it counts.
Treat Commercial Sites Warily
Sites run by some companies are more often than not trying to sell you something. And if they’re trying to sell you something, chances are whatever information they’re presenting will be tilted in favor of their product, service, event, ebook or online course.
Beware of Bias
Reporters write a lot about politics, and there are plenty of political websites out there. But many of them are run by groups that have a bias in favor of one political party or philosophy. This is no different the marketing sphere. Trust must be built on a human-to-human level in the new business environment
Check the Date
As an internet user you need for the most up-to-date information available, so if information seems old, it’s probably best to steer clear. One way to check – look for a “last updated” date on the page or site.
What most of us can benefit from is using logic and context to solve problems on our own and as part of a team, while showing true understanding of the environment we will be working on. The difference between an experienced professional and an inexperienced professional is not so much knowing the answer to a question but rather knowing there is a question to be answered.
Search engines can supplement instruction and research, and are incredible tools for data acquisition, but knowing when and how to use them is crucial — not only to prevent misuse or over-reliance on these resources, but to also make use of them as important tools in an environment where solving problems is often going to be bigger than you and a few mouse clicks.