Google is, so far, the culmination of the internet, in my opinion. The internet is, and always has been, just a way to quickly share data, or more accurately, knowledge. Being able to find the data, or knowledge, that you needed to find quickly became very difficult with the insane growth of the web and the internet in general.
Google has done nothing more than help us find the knowledge we seek, quickly, in the vast hoard of other knowledge that is all over the web. Every part of Google (mail, blog tools, shopping tools, web search, desktop search, etc.), is nothing more than finding a way to store and search different types of data.
I find this absolutely fucking amazing.
Just 20 years ago, and for all of recorded history, access to knowledge was a daunting task. If, 20 years ago, I needed to understand glass-making (or whatever), I had very few options. I could look in the encyclopedia, which would provide a very cursory overview if anything at all. I could go to the library, which would provide me basic but outdated literature on the subject, usually written for those who understood it already. I could have searched the yellow pages, perhaps, but glass makers aren’t on every street corner, you know. I would have had to work for any knowledge I wanted, and it may have taken awhile.
100 years ago, I may have lived my whole life without the opportunity to understand anything at all about glass making, even if I looked for information every day until I died. Knowledge meant long travel, and that wasn’t always possible 100 years ago.
My ability to search and find data today allows me to have a near complete knowledge of glass making, or at least the technical steps and theory, in about 15 minutes. This has never been possible before, and it is amazing. The entire world is different now. Information flows like air, and is accessible to everyone. Anyone can write, anyone can share, anyone can speak, anyone can listen, and anyone can choose not to.
I have no idea what this means, or how it changes the human experience, but I know that it does. I know that the very nature of the world has changed.
And I am sometimes floored by it.
Thanks, Google. I realize that there are a lot of other parts involved, but the role you play in this is impressive. Now remember to not be evil.