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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Googling classes

Poet Jackie Kay is reading her autobiography "Red Dust Road" on Radio 4 at the moment. I only caught the latter half of yesterday's broadcast but she described how she traced her Nigerian father. She'd never met him but she knew his name and that he was an academic. She didn't know how to go about finding him. Then a friend made the suggestion I imagine most of the people reading this blog would have made. Why not Google him? Within seconds she found him. Academics are a breeze on Google.

The world is now so firmly divided into people who Google everything and those who rarely think of it that it's almost become an alternative definition of intelligence. I was sitting on the tube the other night facing somebody wearing a security pass for an educational institution. It had their name and picture on it. They'd made no effort to conceal it. They got off at my station. With nothing else to do while waiting for the bus I looked on the web on my iPhone, entered just their title and first name plus the name of the institution into Google and within a couple of seconds I had their CV. I do things like that because I'm a nosy hack but it would be just as easy for somebody who wished to steal their identity. The person who would probably be most disturbed by this prospect would probably be the person who didn't make the basic effort to conceal the pass in the first place. If they were in the Googling classes they would make sure they hid it.