The Power of Search

Warning: this post has almost nothing to do with imparting any SEO knowledge to our loyal readers.

For those of you who aren’t in the USA, tomorrow is Independence Day. Well, it’s Independence Day for all of us in the states too but you may need a bit of background in order to understand why I’m posting about this. The USA celebrates independence from foreign rule (not to single anyone out but you know who you are!) every July 4th. As a tribute to that fact, I’d like to talk about another form of independence: knowledge.

Data has always been out there if you looked for it, but it was not easily accessible to the common man/woman until the internet became so ubiquitous. You could always search through public records, periodicals, books, and microfilm but that took a lot of time, and you had to also GET to a place that housed all this data. Now, while data still doesn’t magically appear every time you open your eyes, it’s much easier to access, with schools and public libraries housing computers that are connected to the internet, and tons of people having personal computers within their reach.

Knowledge really is something we crave, even if we don’t know it. From something as seemingly minor as needing to know what John Lydon is singing in Seattle to something as major as what’s going on with the war in Iraq today, we want to know. I’m certainly not saying that everything you read is true, because I think that possibly 25% of it is. The media produces much of the data we have access to, and they are certainly not free from censors or bias. Coverups abound, information is misreported accidentally and on purpose, and you have to make your own decisions about what to believe many times. However, without searching for information, where would we end up? Why sit there and be spoon-fed data?

Here’s my best example of the power of search, which, to me, is also the power of knowledge.

My grandfather Jack died right before WWII ended, when my mother was 4. I knew that he was buried in an American military cemetery in the Netherlands, but that was really about all I knew. When I began my search on Google a few years back, I had no idea of what I would encounter. I simply hoped to be able, at minimum, to locate exactly where he was buried so that I could send flowers for his grave. When I finally got a relevant result that led me to a military piece that displayed his information, I was shocked to see that he was the recipient of a Purple Heart. No one in my family had ever mentioned this, so I immediately called my grandmother to ask her about it. I guess I should have assumed he was awarded one, but I really never thought about it.

My grandmother had no knowledge of this. She’d never been told about it, possibly due to the total chaos involved in the death of someone back then in that situation, and she certainly never had the award. So what did I do? I searched for information on how to receive a military honor that had never gotten to the family. This led me to contact Jesse Helms (our state senator at the time) who sent a Purple Heart to me within 2 weeks. THAT is the power of the web for me. THAT is the power of the web for someone like my grandmother, who’s never even heard of the internet. OK she probably has heard of it, but she’s certainly never surfed online or read The Onion.

So celebrate your independence from ignorance, question things more often, and use the internet to find answers to questions that seem unanswerable. Like “why does my best friend Melinda like Robbie Williams so much?” or “how can I make a grilled cheese sandwich using a safety pin, a rubber band, and a pot?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *