Google the Great


"How did you know that?"

You're not a mind reader, but you just might be asked that question when you seem to know a bit too much about someone. How do you keep a poker face in today's world of Googling?

For example, has this ever happened to you?

Story continues below

The Setting: Cafe
You are sitting across from a blind date.

You: So you went to U of ____?
(Actually he doesn't even have to answer that, because you know that he graduated Summa Cum Laude).
Him: Yes, I loved it there. And you went to _____?
You: Right, it was really amazing. (I wonder if the photo of me during spring break is still up...)
Him: So, I have to run, want to meet for dinner soon?
You: Of course! There' s a great vegan place near here.
Him: (how did she know I'm vegan?)

Open Sesame!

In this fairly new world of searching on the internet, we can just about pull anything up about anybody (even your Grandmother who donates to the Democratic party and loves to comment on blogs about artisanal cheeses). It's like the old vaudeville days when a Mindreader would point to a member in the audience and say "You have two sisters and one of them is saying hello from the other side," little does the audience know he did that with a few well placed accomplices who sent him the information before he appeared. Google makes us all mind readers, it gives us the power to point to a stranger and say "I know all about you, I know who you are." Is it creepy? In some ways yes, in others it is about being prepared. It's choosing to live in the stone house and not the straw one when the wolf comes knocking.

Hocus Pocus! You Are Now a Mind Reader!

Your new magic wand is Google Search. Find that vendor in China for your client, or that job, apartment, or a life mate (or coffee date) with the flick of a keystroke. Google Instant is a search enhancement that shows results as you type. Like magic, it gives you faster searches, better predictions (what it thinks you are thinking) and instant results. Armed with this, we can walk into a meeting with definitive, deep and guided search results, which gives us better insight on the company and people behind it. It is the new ESP, it goes beyond gut instinct or a hunch, it is Extraordinary Search Power, it's the sixth sense courtesy of Google.

"All warfare is based on deception." - from the Art of War by Sun Tzu
As much information there is out there, not all of it is real or the truth. Some of it is the sleight of hand, a facade, all of which has to be taken with a grain of salt and the raised eyebrow. A handshake and gut instinct is what Google cannot replicate, it is just a machine that delivers what you ask of it. Google is the Tin Man behind the curtain.


For instance some couples don't want to know the sex of their baby until its born, some others want to know, so that they can be better prepared. It's the same with Google search, we can walk into a social or business meeting armed with online research or go in cold and wing it.
I prefer the former.
Why not go in knowing where they've been and where they want to be? You can then help them achieve their goal, or know that they hate sunset walks on the beach. Search is a tool that allows you to find that needle in the haystack, to run through millions of pages of information for that one bit that answers "who, what, when, why and where."
Is it intrusive? No, we are slowly learning that by leaving breadcrumbs out, we allow people to find us, to know who we are. It is better to embrace the fact that we are going to be indexed like a library card and to own what information is out there about us. Because we are all now rabbits being pulled out from the hat of Google by the ears, whether we like it or not. So just smile and wave that paw, you are now on the world wide stage.

Image: Ophelia Chong

We are dedicated to providing you with articles like this one. Show your support with a tax-deductible contribution to KCET. After all, public media is meant for the public. It belongs to all of us.

Keep Reading