Sunday, September 11, 2011

The World Before Google

Well the title is misleading really, because this isn't all about the world before Google.  It is a bit about it, but I just wanted to reel you in and get you reading!   This blogging thing is not all it's cracked up to be and that is solid fact.   Talk about get confused.   The first obstacle today came when I realised I had forgotten to bookmark or note where my blog was located - and that was fun.  You see, it is not on Google yet!  It is a blog which is owned, or run or something, by Google - but not yet searchable by using Google.   Talk about a hooraw.   Luckily, I had absently clicked a box to inform me when someone commented - and there was an email!  Believe it or not, you are only reading this because my dear friend Nel left me a comment!

Before Google?  Well that was so long ago I hardly do remember it.  But I do recall there were several different ways of searching on the internet, different programs or "search engines"  (why engines? chug chug chug, I think!)  we could use.  They were very hit and miss and sometimes the search results were surprising to say the least.   Don't tell anyone but I searched once and my search engine hacked into a university computer....... I had a whale of a time learning all about microbiology, advanced brain surgery and suchlike.  Shame I understood none of what I read though! 

There is so much technical crud - and I repeat crud - in the world today.  I have my theory that the producers of the technical crud sit huddled over messy desks, with eyes squinted and mouths pursed into tiny pouts - just absolutely beating their brains to come up with  new unpronounceable, unintelligible, and nonsensical words and terms for their cute little inventions.  Perfect example is a Wii.   Now, for the uninitiated, that is NOT pronounced as "Y" but as WEE.   For gawds sake, who thought this up?  Every time I hear someone talking about being on their WEE I collapse laughing and they look at me very strangely.  Can you hear the inventor of the word WEEING himself as well, when he thinks of the millions of people worldwide who have been totally sucked in by this term?  Oh, says your mate, I am just going to exercise on my WEE!    My daughter was playing with her WEE last night.  How perverted is this guy?   He must have known exactly what he was doing when he named it?  You bet he did!  
Tell you what, you aren't going to see me buying one of those any time soon.  I won't be the butt of that guy's evil sense of humour.......pardon the pun.

It's the same really for the terms used on the internet.  Take the word BLOG for instance.  Yeah, yeah, ok, I know it stands for "web log"  but before I found that out I tried to figure it out for myself.  The closest I could get to the meaning of the word "blog" was bullswool log.   I guess my definition is closer to the mark in many cases!
Before Google we had heaps of choice when we were helping our kids with homework research etc.  We had a rather ancient encyclopaedia in 12 or so volumes, which took a fair amount of wading through to find answers.  We had a shelf full of dictionaries, which can be amazingly helpful - like mini encyclopaedias really.  We had the public library - but the decent one was at least 3/4 hour's drive from here.   We had our own recall, and could pick other people's brains, and we had (still have) many reference books in our own little home library.  

If we were ill, we consulted a how to do your own hysterectomy manual (missing page 5), or the Book of Home Remedies - or, stranger still, we saw the G.P.   For any real emergency we trotted off for a seven hour wait in the overcrowded anteroom of the local Accident and Emergency Dept.  Now we Google our and our family's ailments.  And end up on the local Crematorium site checking prices, while eating our Valium sandwich. 

Before Google and online games, children used to play outside - we built treehouses, went hiking, rode our bikes miles through the country. I remember trying to bring home a huge pumpkin I had cadged off a local farmer.  Balancing a pumpkin on the centre of the handlebars does NOT work.  The number of times I fell off before I reached home doesn't bear thinking about.  We would play stupid games like Cowboys and Indians - my doll was burned at the stake so many times it is a wonder there was anything left of it!  We played board games!  Wonders will never cease!  

Before Google the world was simpler, slower, safer really.  Oh I know the internet and all that jazz has vast amounts of wonderful knowledge floating around out there.  But it also has vast amounts of MIS-information and frightening facts also.  Unless we are selective and careful we can land ourselves in a lot of trouble.  And I don't mean just downloading a Trojan either.  

On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog........
Way back then, the nasties of the world were relatively isolated, and many were thus prevented from practising their foulness.  Now?  With information accessible from their own homes, the scam artists, conmen, paedophiles and the like have instant access to others of their ilk, and can form 'rings' around the world, swapping ghastly photographs and information.
The same with explicit pornography - it would be a safe bet that there are very few of us who haven't stumbled onto some obscene (and I mean really bad) porno site.  The last one I stumbled onto popped a picture up of two grown men fondling what appeared to be a girl in her very early teens.  It actually made me ill.

Yep.  The world before Google was slower, it was harder to connect with people as we only had the power of the pen, and later on some of our homes had telephones.  The world was also safer for our children, our teens and young women.  There was no easy access to sites showing 50 ways to torture your ex girlfriend.   On the other hand?  If our young ones left home we didn't have a simple, instant way to contact them.  We would have to wait days for a letter and/or photograph to arrive, to let us know they were safe and sound.  We had no quick help in the middle of the night when our baby was screaming in pain and we were demented with worry and fear.   If we lived alone we were lonely.

Letters please!
My conclusion?  Nothing will change what is in place regarding the evil on the net, except constant vigilance by parents and law enforcers.  That aside, the advent of the internet and Google has, for the majority of us, been a force for good, taking us out of our little narrow world, and dumping us willy-nilly into the lives of millions of other people.   It has created safe places for people to befriend and help others, allowed us to travel even though we are unable to because of illness or lack of funds. And perhaps through people interacting on the internet, we will eventually all join hands and be a tremendous force for worldwide peace.

What do you think?  I welcome your comments!

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