Googling a Better Life

A few weeks ago, Mr. Spit and I had a BBQ in our back yard. And a group of us were sitting around, and the children were playing, and we were talking about information. We were talking about living in the information age. We were talking about all of the things we know now. I made reference to googling how to put some stuff up on vinyl siding. And I posed the question to the group - what would we have done before google?

Google seems like it has been with us forever, but truly, I've only been using it for a little bit less than 10 years. And it's the nature of electronic change to assume that Internet institutions have been with us forever. I started my undergraduate degree in 1997. I hadn't used the Internet much before I started. And there was cool stuff online, but it was in the vein of hamster dance.

In 2005 I finally went back to the U of A, to pick up my last 3 credits - History 105 - a History of the Middle Ages. And I arrived to my first class from work, in my suit, and there was this, well girl-child next to me. And when the prof was talking about the essay we had to write, she was incensed we couldn't use wikipedia.

In 7 years, the library became obsolete. The periodical reading room in Rutherford South had people typing on their laptops the last time I was there. There were fewer periodicals, because periodicals publish online.

And now, google is a verb. We speak of googling things. For heaven's sake, my mother talks about googling. I was wondering what Safeway put in their 7 grain salad, and my mother said "google it".

Odd, when you really think about it. Rather than go back and ask the deli clerk, and compliment them on a great salad, I google it. Rather than go to the hardware store, or my neighbours, and ask them how to hang something on vinyl siding. Rather than even asking Mr. Spit, who is handy, I walk over to my lap top, and I google "hanging stuff on vinyl siding".

Then I spend 20 minutes refining my search, to get to where I want to be. Think on this for a second. It's lunacy. 30 minutes to find a bit of information: yes, there's a product to hang stuff. Several in fact. But in the end, I can't tell you if it's what I want, based on size and looks. I can't tell you how much it will be. I can't even tell you if my local hardware store has it. And I can't tell you if it would be better than my original solution, which was a penny nail. 30 minutes spent, and I have no real answers. But, I've clicked on a link that sells hanging baskets for vinyl siding, I've seen pictures of different siding types, and I know how to install vinyl siding (if such a thing can be learned in 5 minutes).

And I suppose, what this rambling rant is saying is simple. We have information. And if you believe information is knowledge you get to a bit of math.
information = knowledge
knowledge = power
power = control
control = a better life

And yet. I don't know what Safeway puts in their 7 grain salad, in spite of about 65,000 results. I can tell you about 3 products to hang stuff off your siding, and my stars are still on the table, and while I've been typing this, I've been reading up on the life cycle of a slug.

And this is a better life. . . .