Google is the most widely used search engine on the World Wide Web. The company was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998 that ranked a list of websites and their relevance. With time, Google grew to become the number one search engine for searching for any information. Products started coming with Google as their homepage. For instance, internet browsers like Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera and Google Chrome come with Google already set as their home page.
Google is not only a search engine but is also working towards building new products that run human lives. They include Google maps, Chrome, Gmail etc. Google’s newly established company Alphabet is also working towards developing new surgical robots and automated cars which can transform human lives.
In 1998, the average number of searches made on Google was 9800 searches per day. By 2014, the average number of Google searches reached 5.7 billion with more increasing every day. Search engines are no longer just a method for doing research work. They have become a prevalent way in which an individual encounters new information.
HOW IS GOOGLE CHANGING US- THE EXPERIMENT
Google search engine churns out massive amounts of online information. A combination of keywords is all one needs in order to search for content. But how does this massive amount of information dumped at our disposal, affects our human brain? A similar question plagued Gary Small and his wife Gigi Vordan who wanted to study the changes in the brain caused due to the internet.
In his experiment, he took 24 subjects out of which 12 used Google search engines and 12 didn’t. Each one of them was provided with an MRI to record their brain activity while they googled the content. UCLA’s professor of psychiatry, Gary Small, found that on Googling the content, the brains of his subjects lit up.
He recorded his result and penned them down in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry in 2009. His research indicated that by using a search engine, there is an increase in brain activity in the regions dealing with decision making, vision and complex reasoning. The more experience a person is in using the search engine, the more powerful brain activity becomes.
Other studies have noted that by using search engines, the users are more likely to skim over the content rather than actually reading it. Another study by researchers at Harvard, Columbia and Wisconsin-Madison University, established that online readers tended to forget the information learned online over the ones who collected information using print sources. However, they did recall the location of the information saved. This showcased internet as a source of external memory where data is saved outside of the human body.
GOOGLE SEARCHES- THE NEW AGE SOLUTION TO EVERY PROBLEM
Back in the old times, when a question was asked, an individual had to take out a dictionary or encyclopaedia for getting results. But with technology, users only have to Google the word and every possible outcome is shown. The long complicated words get autocorrected and the grammatical errors are resolved.
- Google search indexes the entire world’s information online- just a few keystrokes away. It helps in connecting to the world in a desirable manner.
- Gmail makes communication easier and quicker.
- Google docs enable individuals to collaborate text documents, slideshows, and spreadsheets for free of cost- whenever and wherever.
- Google person finder helps in tracking a person’s whereabouts in case of emergencies. During natural disasters, this tool comes in handy for finding missing people.
- Google maps help in capturing the current location in real time to navigate. People no longer need to remember the routes. They simply have to google a place and its location will pop up in the maps.
- Google Hangouts is effective way of connecting with business colleagues, making phone or video calls,
- Google news consists of new information which is updated every minute from all over the world.
- Google Analytics help in turning the data into profit.
- Google Earth helps in tracking the minutest places on Earth.
But with the advantages, comes various problems.
- Owing to the facility of Google searches, the users tend to become more forgetful. They no longer feel the need to remember names, numbers, spellings, grammar rules etc since they can easily Google it up for them. New words are googled, understood and then forgotten. There is no effort taken to find the meaning of the text and understand it.
- Owing to a large number of search results churned out by Google, users don’t feel the need to read through each and every article. They simply skim through the pages and check for any details. With the use of highlighted keywords, pictures, videos etc. they simply get the gist of the mater and don’t do any comprehensive study. This changes the way the brain works. The deep-rooted integrated circuits of the brain get conditioned to study selectively.
- A downside of using search engines is that when an individual sits to study from the book, he finds it problematic to focus and not scan through the pages. The habit of skimming adversely affects the reading habits.