Thursday, May 06, 2004

How good is Google?

Today's Guardian Online has a nice little feature that attempts to put Google to the test:

On your marks, get set, search ...
Google, the world's most popular internet search engine, is about to offer shares to the public. It has built its reputation on being the fastest and most accurate way to find information. But is the internet really the quickest way to access facts - and get them right? We put Google to the test against more old-fashioned methods.
Ros Taylor, Oliver Burkeman and Stephen Moss

On the whole, Google does pretty well but doesn't always beat the telephone and the library. The article shows that you need both ingenuity and experience to get the best out of Google. And, of course, it does not add on the time for travelling to the library or the cost of making phone-calls. Here I am sitting at my PC and Google is so handy. But here's my concern: we are already getting to the stage where some students think that if Google can't find it, it doesn't exist. This perception might well intensify as the internet gets more comprehensive and as Google continues to find ways to pinpoint its searches. In the main I celebrate the fact that so much information is so straightforwardly accessible, but is it going to lead to more frustration in the future when people then fail to find what they need on the net?

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