A very wise man told me once, “Google is as close as humans can get to God!” Probe a little deeper and you will see the sense behind it. God is Omnipresent, Omniscient and Omnipotent. Replace God with Google and read it again. Now I know this may read as blasphemy to a lot of people, but really, is it too far-fetched an idea?
15 years back when Google stepped onto the World Wide Web, my father got us our first desktop. 1998 was still the time when a family co-owned a computer. We shared the desktop and we had a limited window to explore the magical gadget. I remember very little about Google from its infancy. All I recall are my first Hotmail account and the Caltiger calls I had to make to connect to the Internet. I haven’t ‘Googled’ Caltiger in all these years, so I just discovered that the free-Internet service provider shut shop ten years back! By the time I entered college, Internet was a necessity; to write emails to friends and connect with my boyfriend in a chat room. There was no Skype and my parents had no inclination to write emails to me. Even my brother in boarding school sent me inland letters. To look back ten years in time, I realize the world looked so different then!
The first time I ‘Googled’ something, or rather the first time I used Google for a purpose was when I was studying Greek Literature in my undergraduate study. Zeus, Artemis, Dionysus, Hera, Hades, Aphrodite…oh God! How I was beaten blue and black by these Immortals, trying to remember their names and references in The Iliad! Back in the early 2000’s, those were still the days when students had to take down copious notes in the library. At the beginning of the month, you could of course spend those precious pennies on photocopying notes. Google Books was just born, but I didn’t know about it then. So in an attempt to use technology and make my study leave productive (and smart), I decided to ‘Google’. Out came the lineage of these mighty Immortals and I soon found myself new background readings and comprehensive, easy-to-understand charts. What a delight!
Now when I look back at it, I wonder what would world be like without Google! Of course Google is in the search business. But then it also is in mobile with an operating system. Then there is a web browser, a free-email service that has taken the business away from Hotmail and Yahoo. And Google Maps that I gleefully use even when I travel on the Delhi Metro just for fun! Google has gone to the extent of making human’s redundant by making a driver less car! Trust Google to be the innovator, constantly tinkering with technology to come up with something new. Take the Project Loon for instance. Imagine an Internet carrying balloon transmitting broadband services to remote regions from 20 kms up in the air! Never mind, my Airtel 3G has a dismal Internet speed! Or Google Glass that will perhaps change the world of photography forever! Imagine, a pair of spectacles that attempts to mirror the human brain, capturing pictures and moments right when they happen without the need of a camera! I wonder what other genius, Google X, Google’s secret lab is holing up inside!
Never mind some of the duds that came out of the Google stable, for instance the not-so-ambitious Google Buzz that wanted to take over Twitter. The service failed and Google Buzz shut shop last year. Google however couldn’t match up to Facebook with its first social network, Orkut. I remember humoring myself with ‘testimonials’ and screwing my eyes every time someone wrote ‘scraps’ saying “Will you do friendship with me?” I shut down my account when I discovered FB in 2007. Google is much like the effervescent teenager. It doesn’t give up easily. So Google Plus arrived in 2011 looking to renew its attempt to dislodge Facebook. And even though Google Health failed, Google is carving a new road with Calico, an independent company owned by Google to work on health and ageing; enough to show that Google is committed to bringing solutions to healthcare.
To me, the lay user who has three different Gmail accounts, has an Android device and takes great pride in syncing all her relevant data on her hand phone, office computer and laptop at home, you are clearly Omnipresent. As one who seeks help from the ‘Great Google Baba’ for (almost) everything on the planet, thank you, for making my life so much easier, you are Omniscient. Dear Google, thank you for opening up the world to me. For teaching me things that I didn’t know existed in the world. And taking me to places where I will perhaps never go. Thank you for the people who I have met through you. For the meals I have cooked thanks to you. The parenting lessons that I have picked up from you and letting my son watch “Winnie the Pooh” when no one else shows it on TV. And thank you for the wonderful stories I have discovered through you. I hate to accept this, but I may have been half as good a television producer if I had not had you! To me, darling Google, you are Omnipotent!
Happy Birthday Google! March on…I am cheering you on!