Google’s mission statement can be found, aptly enough, at www.google.com/about/company. It states quite simply, “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Another interesting fact is that Google was not founded until 1998. I graduated high school in 1997. I did not begin attending college until 2009, at 30 years of age. The internet technology that most helped me as a student is Google.
It is difficult to convey the profound impact Google had on the internet and a student’s ability to use it effectively. Before Google, performing a search on the internet was more difficult than trying to use the hand-typed card catalogs in a library. In a library it was reasonably certain the books were relevant and written by reliable sources. With the dawn of the internet and its easy accessibility to students, it was quickly considered an unreliable source. Not just specific sites, but the internet as a whole was suspect. Finding relevant, useful information required hours upon hours of wading through block text on sites and following embedded links to sources just to find the right key words to use to narrow your search down to the topic you were researching.
By organizing information Google has made it universally more useful. Google Books and Scholar give every student with the internet access to databases of information that, prior to this invention, required that students belong to a university that spends thousands, even millions, of dollars every year for access. What is more, Google is actually easier to use than these formal databases.
When I begin researching a topic, I simply type it into the Google Search bar and read about it on sites like Wikipedia. This allows me to learn enough to do a more refined search to find news articles that enable me to conduct further searches. Finally Google Books and Scholar give a much more detailed, scientific base to my knowledge as well as sources to quote.
Before Google the internet was like a warehouse full of loose pages torn from books. There was a ton of information but searching through it required starting in one corner and scanning every page for pertinent information. Google became the library, organizing the information, searching out and creating links to relevant topics, stripping away the dross to leave bright nuggets of solid gold fact behind. Yet, Google is more than any library. It is every library, and it is accessible from the home, the office, even the phone in my pocket. Students are no longer limited to the information contained within the walls of a library, the world is now, quite literally, at our fingertips.