Can Google Answer all your Questions ?

Posted on September 30, 2016

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Recently Google Celebrated its 18th birthday and most of us realised that it existed long time before many of us started using it.

In fact, most of us have replaced the word “search” with “Google”. Now-a-days, We don’t say, “I searched for it on net”. Instead we say “I googled it”.

While I have a huge respect for Google as a company as well as its efficiency to help you research, off late I have realised that most of us need to use sanity and prudence while using google.

Difference between Data, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom

Lets first understand the pyramid of Data, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom.

wisdom-knowledge-information-data-pyramid15 wkid

The pictures also shows an example of how Data, information, Knowledge and Wisdom are different from each other and can be derived from one to another.

Now, as long as we use Google for data searching or information searching, it should be fine as we can convert this to knowledge and wisdom.

To those with higher degree of understanding, may also sparingly use it for knowledge. But if we start googling for wisdom, we will be doomed for disaster.

Wisdom, by definition, is the ability to take decision based on knowledge (which may be derived after a detailed study of information on data) but also requires human skills.

These days, we have interesting examples of Google searches.

Imagine someone searching on Google “How to commit suicide?”

Google might throw up all the ways to commit suicide, but is it going to ask you “Why do you want to commit suicide?” or console / motivate you for not committing suicide?

How does Google Search Work?

Google Search works on a basic principle of string matching. It looks for keywords put in the search bar and then matches them with the content of websites across the globe. While this is a commendable feature, at times it can misguide people if they don’t use their brains.

For example, someone types “Best Country in the world” , Google wouldn’t know which country is best in the world (nor it wants to know). All it does is, lists down all the webpages where this phrase “Best Country in the world” has appeared.

So someone looking to find an answer to this query may be either disappointed or misinformed. And this isn’t Google’s fault. It is our fault that we are not asking the right question.

How should you use Google?

As mentioned above, Google can be used for data or information searching. For example, you know that some Dr. Tukaram Jadhav (hypothetical character) is a good child specialist in Dadar. But you don’t have his contact number or address. Now you can go to Google and search for his name, so that it helps you in finding his contact details (Hopefully Dr. Jadhav has uploaded his details such that Google can find them). This data can be directly used.

In case you don’t know his name, and you are looking for a child specialist in Dadar, you can do a google search “Good Child Specialist in Dadar”. Now, don’t you think the results here will be less “ready to use” than the earlier?

Out of the few names thrown by Google, you will have to do additional analysis of the qualifications, experience, references etc of the names of doctors popped up. So this data needs to be used with additional level of offline intelligence.

I hope none of us would directly like to ask Google, “My Child is having fever. What to do?”

If someone is doing that, let me tell you, this can be a disaster. You would require a qualified professional who takes into account your child’s age, weight, height and several other things.

Some telecom companies have advertised internet to be the “Sea of Knowledge and Wisdom”. But its their own vested interest to make people buy data plans. Lets understand that internet is a “Sea of Data and Information” and we still need higher skills to be able to use this data and information to convert into knowledge and wisdom. (Not to forget, these data can also be incorrect at times. So one needs to be sure of the source. In case of error, you cant get away by saying, “I got it from Google”).

Can Google Personalise the “advice”?

The first mistake would be to expect that Google can advise you.

But as we have all types of people in this world, lets say someone actually tries to seek advice from Google. You ask it to show the ‘best’ route from point A to B. It will show you the shortest route based on data available (i.e. distance, traffic etc). However, does Google know that you are planning to take a 12 seater mini-bus from that route and the narrow road wont accommodate your mini-bus ?

Likewise there could be various cases, wherein a combination of online data and offline intelligence needs to be used rather than blindly trusting and following what Google advises.

Beware of “Google-enabled Professionals”

There are some people who have just “become” professionals by googling. While a professional also needs to keep himself updated through the internet, there needs to be strong foundation on which the knowledge updation can be done.

Imagine you going to a doctor who has just learnt everything just by googling or watching videos on the YouTube. Or flying with a pilot who hasn’t undergone any training; Rather he has just read on the internet “How to fly an aircraft?”

While the internet (or Google) is a great tool to connect with the world, let it not take away our sanity.

Key Takeaways :

  1. Understand the difference between Data, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom.
  2. Use Google for searching data and information only. Keep Knowledge and Wisdom queries for professionals.
  3. Verify Data and information thrown by Google. Check the source.
  4. Google just matches strings or phrases to provide links. There is no “intelligence” or “due diligence” done by Google on the validity.
  5. Google cant give you personalised advice. Offline intelligence would be needed.
  6. For critical and long term issues, deal with known, verified and qualified professionals ; And not with “Google-enabled Professionals”

We look forward to your valuable comments and feedback.

Saurabh Profile Pic

The Author Prof. Saurabh Bajaj (BE, MBA, FRM, CFGP) is CEO with Nidhi Investments, Mumbai. He may be contacted on CEO@nidhiinvestments.com if you have any questions.

(The views mentioned in the article are personal opinion of the author)

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