Although most people have at least heard of Google, it can sometimes be a daunting task to find the answer you’re looking for online. The fact that we have instant access to so many answers is simply too overwhelming for many people to process.
If you don’t think you will find the answer, you most likely won’t ask the question, and that would be missing out on a wealth of useful information available at your fingertips.
Search engines like Google and Bing are powerful tools. The results they provide are supported by giant networks of information that have been developed over many years. Search engines are great for staying in touch with the latest scandal, finding restaurant reviews, or learning the outcome of the Blue Jays game, but what about finding answers to less common problems?
For instance, your microwave has stopped working and is displaying an error code. You could dig out the manual and hope the error codes are included. You could also bring it to an appliance repair centre. However, the first thing everyone should do is use a search engine to search for the make/model of the microwave and the error code.
The internet won’t necessarily teach you how to fix it, but you can gather information and have a better idea about the next action to take. Internet searches do not always offer complete answers, but they almost always offer insight and can often act as a starting point towards a solution.
When it comes to common questions about your computer or smartphone, there’s almost always someone who has asked about the same thing that you’re searching for. More often than not, their question has been answered and now has become a signpost for all those who come after. Help and discussion forums are displayed prominently in search results and you shouldn’t be afraid to turn to them for answers. Perhaps you just want the name of the song you just heard while you were in a store. Type in one of the lyrics you heard followed by the word “lyrics”, and you will find your artist and song title instantly.
However, there are some instances where relying on the internet can be problematic. For example, health problems are among the most commonly Googled inquiries, but you should definitely see a doctor if you’re concerned about your well-being.
An important feature of Google that many novice searchers miss is the category listing above the search results. By searching and then clicking “Images”, “News”, or “Maps” and so on, the results are narrowed down to those categories. Bing also has similar categories. The video option should not be underestimated! When one of my car speakers stopped working, I was able to find several Youtube videos demonstrating exactly how to remove the inner part of the door on my exact model and year of my car.
As the internet grows larger and becomes more and more essential to our daily life, access to this much information will inevitably change how we think and interact. It seems likely that our ability to search and find information quickly may take priority over simply knowing as much as we possibly can about any given thing. New devices might come along and make those searches even easier and better integrated into our daily workflow. Already, we’re seeing technology throughout the home that can search the internet. It’s a better time than ever to get search engines working for you.
Alex Webster offers computer coaching and support for the Beaches and Toronto East. www.thecomputercoach.ca, 416-550-7873