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She Said, Z Said: Just Google the Facts, Ma’am
Z: I read an article that Google is now offering to pay deceased employee’s spouses half of their salaries for 10 years. I sent the article to my buddy who works for Google, telling him to sleep with one eye open.
She: Sometimes, I know where you’re going with your opening line. This is not one of those times.
Z: Sending that article made me feel like my father, who loved little tidbits of information, and sharing them with friends and family.
She: ... and that’s not where I would have guessed you were going.
Z: He also liked to do huge amounts of research before making any purchase or decision. He would emerge from weeks of study, and make some sort of oracular pronouncement. “Free-Standing Wall Unit.” Or, “Rhodesian Ridgeback.”
She: What did that mean?
Z: I think one was a book case, and the other was the kind of dog we were supposed to buy, based on all his research. But we never got one, so I can’t be sure.
She: He was clearly a man who would have loved the Internet.
Z: You would think. At the same time, research on the Internet is a little too easy. Getting the answer too easily or too quickly might have killed all the fun.
She: Not for me. I love having facts at my fingertips. See? I just Googled Rhodesian Ridgebacks, and found out that another name for them is Van Rooyen’s Lion Dog.
Z: Which I’m sure he could have told us after consulting the 20 books he bought about dogs.
She: I love books, too, but there’s something awesome about typing a question out into space, and getting the answer back.
Z: What’s even better is that the answer is more and more often the correct answer. There were a few years there where Internet info was highly suspect.
She: I think there’s still more than enough bad information. We’ve just gotten better at figuring out what the good information is.
Z: My only fear is that having the facts on the Internet will make all the facts in my head go away. I’m reasonably good at assembling facts once I have them, but what if I only store those facts in the cloud? Will I not have enough basic facts to even ask the right questions anymore?
She: That’s a real thing, you know. It’s called “Googleatrophy,” which is “the inability to cognate relative minutia or trivial information due to an over-reliance and/or dependence on Google.”
Z: You just Googled that, didn’t you?
She: Of course, but I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Given the vast amount of time you spend on crossword puzzles, I’m guessing that you’ll always have plenty of useless facts available to you. It’s the facts that help you make money that seem to have disappeared from your mind.
Z: So I just Googled, “How do I make money?” The top answer sent me to a wiki, and its first recommendation was to sell something.
She: I’m pretty sure you need both of your kidneys.
Z: On the other hand, the Google symbol looked like fun, so I clicked on it and it took me to some rhythmic gymnastics. Sweet.
She: Serendipity is not dead on the Internet.
Z: I remember some alarmists who were afraid that the Internet would take informational serendipity out of our lives.
She: Google amnesia. That’s another real thing. I looked it up.
Z: They were afraid that you would narrowcast a question, and get back only the answer you were looking for, which wouldn’t necessarily be correct.
She: I have the opposite problem. I keep getting sidetracked by Internet research, and go off on more tangents than I ever would with traditional research.
Z: I don’t really think that Pinterest counts as Internet research.
She: Maybe not, but it sure does keep the house cleaner.
She: Instead of collecting all of the ephemera I used to, now I just keep it on Pinterest. I’m still not sure if I’ll stumble back across it in the future, like I do when I’m throwing away old collage materials that I’m sure once had a purpose, but it’s definitely tidier.
Z: That, and you don’t have to save any paper any more.
She: Brochures, cards, printed stuff. I used to have all sorts of files. Not any longer.
Z: It’s amazing how you traded all that paper for beads.
She: This reminds me — where is our actual paperwork? You know, the papers that tell me what I get if your wife should accidentally stab you?
Z: Sorry. I’m not a Google employee.
She: Yes, dear.
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