Google is my friend, it could be yours too!

You must have heard the phrase “Google is your friend”. If not then this post backs up the theory that you learn something new every day! Basically it is the theory that you should embrace the use of Google as ,if used wisely, it generally holds the answer to most questions.

If I analyse the amount of questions I get, both in work and out of work, on various topics (mostly technical) I think only 60-70% of the time I have the answer. The rest of the time I go away and find the answer. Most of the time I have some form of internet connection to the first port of call is to fire up Google and see what I can find.

if the problem was for example an error message, I would ask the customer/friend/colleague exactly what the error message was, word for word. I would then type this into Google (in quotes, to make sure Google knew I wanted to search for all the words in that particular order) and hit search. Most of the time the first page of Google is filled with helpful articles and forum posts with people having the same issue.

Sometimes there are pages of people having the same issue but there is no resolution, but most of the time (>90%) there are suggested answers. Sometimes there is the odd red-herring in that the question was asked in 2001 and things have moved on, but Google now have the facility to search for recent posts, so I you just search during the past 12 months then most of the answers are relevant.

I do not consider this to be rocket science, or some kind of secret code I enter into Google. I simply looked at the error and typed it into Google. Surely this is something the village idiot could do? Why then do very intelligent people come to me rather than asking Google?

The obvious answer is “why have a dog and bark yourself?”. LOL, ok, I asked for that! Seriously though, I don’t think that is the issue. Most of the people who ask really would not bother me with their issue if they knew they could get the answer from Google.

Could the issue be they did not know about Google? I find that hard to believe too. Google is so big it has become the word used to describe the act of searching for something on the web. “searching” has become “Googling”. That’s pretty impressive!

I can only therefore imagine that people are still techno-phobic. The scary thing is some of these people are not old, they are in their 30’s and really should know better. Maybe it is how I was introduced to computers at an early age, wanting to break and repair to discover how things worked, but for me the absolute last option is to ask someone else. Even reading the manual comes before that (and being a bloke, you must realise we just don’t DO that!).

One of these days I will write a simple (hopefully non-patronising) PDF that I can give to these people to print out (that’s what these people like to do, print!) which shows them step by step how to search in a smart way and how to filter their searches. Firstly though, I must get over the shock that most of these people simply don’t seem to even think about trying to find the answer themselves.

I have tagged this post as a “rant”, but it isn’t really. I don’t tell people to go away and Google it, I do help them. Maybe I should get a job as a researcher, I don’t know. I like helping people and that’s why I do it, but that still doesn’t help me understand why people seem not to want to help themselves.