When I was shopping for my smartphone, the tech at Verizon expressed his astonishment that so many customers came all the way back to the store after buying their phones in order to have tech support help them do things like open a web browser, search for an application, and add a phone number to their contact list.
“Haven’t they heard of Google?” I said.
There seems to be a bit of a generational divide when it comes to behaviors for finding information. I’m right about at the borderline of it. I still catch myself thinking, “Gosh, I don’t know X. Who do I know that knows how to do X? I guess I will have to call on a specialist to do X.” It sometimes take me a few frustrated minutes before I realize that Google will know.
Chances are, if you have a problem – technical, personal, professional – somebody else has had it too…. And they’ve posted their story about how they handled it online.
In the last couple of months, Google has helped me install a water line hookup for my fridge, cook my first turkey (no calling of relatives required), make my first batch of gravy, and troubleshoot programs that refused to open and video games that persistently and mysteriously crashed.
It becomes harder and harder to say, “I can’t” or “I don’t know” when all you have to do is ask the question online. There are a lot of ramifications of this, not only in your personal life, but also in your business life.
When “ask Google/the web” finally becomes our default mode of obtaining information (likely in 20 more years when people like me who were on the divide are now the dinosaurs), personal responsibility, accountability, and empowerment are going to go up.
This is one of the biggest reasons I’m against businesses blocking, filtering, or restricting internet access for employees. Sure, they could be playing around on Facebook (they could also be playing around on Facebook on their phone, so give it up already). They can waste the same amount of time chatting with a coworker on the floor, too. But by providing them with an open window to all the information they need, you give them the ability to make informed decisions very quickly, without a top-down bottleneck.
The biggest benefit to free information is the way it can expand the abilities of others.
Now we all just need to start taking advantage of it. Not just when we’re looking for a website… but when we’re looking for real-world solutions to real-world problems.