Don’t let Google make you stupid

by Tony Fannin, President, BE Branded

WARNING: This is a social commentary. It only reflects my personal point of view.

Google’s ultimate objective is to offer you one entry when you are searching for something. They believe in the one, perfect answer. They want to understand you so well, that they know what you want before you do. Here’s my question – is Google (or the search industry and companies like Amazon) making all of us more stupid? I believe the answer is yes. Here’s why. Google’s answers are based on your history, so they only serve up answers that are more aligned with your past. This means, you are exposed to nothing new because you don’t ask for it or even know what to ask for. I equate this to the many people I come across that are so narrow minded, you think they were raised in isolation. They only have one point of view and believe everyone else is wrong or there is only one way to do things. Search acts on the same premise. It’s very similar to people who only move about only in their hometown. They “search” only the local things they are familiar with and never really see the world outside of their little town. There’s much to explore and discover, but they don’t know that because if they don’t ask the right question in the query box, they’ll just get the same answers and miss other points of view.

Another flaw in the Google and search ways of thinking are their algorithms view the most linked to site as the most creditable. This may or may not be true. No algorithm can tell if a person, entry, or site is the most creditable. They believe in crowd sourcing and if a million people believe it, it must be true and that site is the ultimate authority. The major flaw in this is Google is depending on crowds to be an expert in everything. Do I really know how to tell the difference between an expert surfer from an average one just because it’s the number one site? No, because I don’t know what qualities make up a surfer expert and what the difference is. There is a MIT professor who does not allow his students to use internet search for their research in their first year of class. The reason he gave was Freshmen students don’t know the difference between expert content and inferior content. They haven’t learned enough about the qualities of their subject matter to make human judgement calls on reliability, accurateness, and credibility. Remember the saying “If it’s in the paper, it must be true.”? Unfortunately, that saying is still alive. Too many believe that “If it’s on the internet, it must be true.”

Many people have quit thinking on their own and giving too much power to the internet. In Google’s world, you would be so predictable that you wouldn’t be shown anything but a mirror of yourself. Eventually, you become narrow-minded, shallow, and can only see your way of thinking or your way of life. You learn nothing new because you don’t know what to ask for any more. Too often, the “wisdom of the crowd” makes a false concept true, a Christopher Columbus syndrome (the crowd source belief that the world is flat).

My hope is that people don’t give up the human element of being able to think for themselves and not to take the internet as gospel, even Google is not always right and engineers do have flaws (I know it’s hard to believe.) Be open to other ways of thinking and other viewpoints than your own. As a business owner, this is not only personal gain, but it is a business necessity. Don’t let Google think for you and box your mind into a simple algorithm that is boringly predictable. Remember it’s the revolutionaries who go against the crowd and do great things. Even Google started that way.


About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

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