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In praise of Google

For all Google's problems, the one thing it does very well has changed my life

I tend to be pretty hard on Google. I suppose it's a case of where much is given, much is expected. Regardless, as I was working yesterday it hit me just how much I use Google. It made me grateful that the company figured out a way to make gobs of cash so that its basic service - search - is free to use 24 hours each day, seven days each week.

How do you use Google? For me, I find myself using it constantly to find the following information:

  • General web searches.
  • News.
  • Directions or addresses or phone numbers on my Blackberry while traveling.
  • Dictionary definitions.
  • My own old blog posts or others' so that I can link to them.

These are all simple things that aren't life-or-death for me, but they make my life and work much, much easier. I don't use Google (or rarely do) for email, photo sharing (Picasa), or much of anything else, as I think it tends to fall down when it gets away from its core search technology, but that core search technology is...core to how I spend my time online.

Google has its problems. I wish it would contribute more source-code modifications that it makes to Linux, MySQL, Apache, and others open-source projects, for one. But overall, the world is better for Google's sheer power of search and minimalist design.

This post is simply meant to say 'Thank you.' I don't do that enough.

By the way, I'm not sure if you've discovered what I recently did, but Yahoo's Maps feature is actually much better than Google's. It tends to have better map data and the presentation is amazing. Yahoo is also much better with its email (interface and functionality) and its finance site. I'm not sure why I and others don't give Yahoo more credit for the work it does, but maybe it's a testament to Google's dominance that even where Yahoo is better, many of us just keep using Google as our default...?