By Ada Naza
The endless possibilities to the things we can google is outstanding and the ease with which I switch from ‘googling’ ‘how to make vegetable soup?’ to ‘how to learn programming’ in a split second is mind blowing! So mind blowing that I always imagine the two O’s in ‘Google’ as eyes looking at me in exasperation.
Before the advent of google, if someone had said something stupid like, ‘Africa is a country’, I may have forgiven the person because, maybe they don’t have books where they are from or maybe they can’t read and have never been to school, There was an infinitesimal amount of maybes and I would have just had to make space for all of them but if you said something like that now, I mean, I would throttle you and nobody would bat an eyelid because, it’s not cool to ‘not know’ anymore. Now, you don’t know how to knot your tie? ‘Why? Google!’, ‘How do I apply my eye liner?’ ‘Google!’, ‘Where would my soul go when I die?’… Please don’t google that, even google does not know, ‘How to dance Shaku Shaku’ ‘Google the hell up!’ and slowly, the era of ignorance looking cool is racing surely to an end.
So, how does Google get all of its information and deliver it at almost the same speed it took you to type the search, if not less? And to avoid a situation like the time last year when an undergraduate was making an argument, insisting that Planes fly due to the antics of the devil and that this was a sure sign for the end of days, (story for another day), I would explain the little I know on how google works using layman terms; Google uses automated programs called ‘Crawlers’ and what they do is, create a sort of map of the web and with its large index of keywords, sort information on the web at lightning speed. You know how it is easier for you to find a topic, let’s say ‘Reproduction’ on your Biology text book using the Index pages at the back instead of reading the whole text? It’s something like that but at a much larger scale.
Sometimes, you find that your google searches hit a little bit too close to home and this is because, Google collects and keeps information on you. Things like what you search for, websites you visit, videos you watch, how long you stay on these sites, your location, device information, name, email address, birthday, emails you have sent and received on your Google mail and much more, it then tailors your searches to meet the standard they think you would require.
I understand how this may seem more than a little daunting, I mean, it seems Google knows more about me than any other person in the world and wiping my search history does not make it go away, I have come to realize that maybe, this is a necessary evil but if you would want to find out just what google has on you, you can log on to http://takeout.google.com/settings.com/settings/takeout, select ‘Everything’, click ‘Next’ and choose the file format and the delivery method you would want the information to be sent to you, Tap on ‘Create Archive’ and wait for it to be sent to you, this may be a lot because it would include all your searches since the first day you used google.
People would always ask, ‘How does Google make their money?’ I mean, they are raking in billions in returns every year and it’s supposed to be a free search engine, the answer is Google Ads! Which are usually paid for either when a user clicks on them or based on the number of times the ads appear on the Google network. You might be confused based on the fact that you don’t really see any pop up ads while using the Google search tool but let’s do a little experiment, type ‘Cheap Hotels in Abuja’ on your Google search, you would notice that the first results to your search have little yellow buttons labelled as Ads, you might have over looked them in the past but that’s an Adword and every time you click on that link, Google gets paid.
I cannot as a person over emphasize the importance of Google, I mean, I love it, it makes almost everything easier for me but I also have to state that while searching for information on Google, it is advised that you get whatever it is from more than one source to prevent misinformation.