FREE SPEECH ZONE | The End of Google?


Since the 1990s, search engine comings and goings were the main news of the Internet. Google came to stay in 1998 and lived on for more than 10 years. In the late 1990s, it was fantastic. I passed my networking class with straight “A”s because of Google’s excellence in finding the right answers on Cisco’s website. I gave Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, a Wikipedia barnstar because I couldn’t ask for more. But no more. Google can’t find the right answers I guess because they are buried in blogs and aggregators. The right answer to a question might be anywhere in the millions of hits and most likely won’t be in the top ten or twenty search results anymore. It’s been getting worse for a few years (it bothered me in May 2008 enough to write to a now-non-existent Wikipedia editor that “blogs and pollution in Google results nowadays though say that things better change one day”). So, sadly I can’t use their service like I used to. Wikipedia agrees, saying that “Google’s worldwide popularity peaked at 82.7% in December 2008”. It comes as a surprise, given how I have used their service over the years, that Google and Bing are, according to The New York Times, in a race for features. My search for “how to cure a foot blister” found 3,280,000 hits. But nowhere in the first two pages was the right answer. I added to the right answer in Wikipedia, and found a mention of it in Reading the wrong advice could keep me off my feet for weeks. But luck sent me instead to my health care provider, who happened to have been a U.S. Navy doctor in Iraq. He knew a “trick.” Apply tincture of benzoin, which can cause a terrible sting for the moment it is applied, but then the foot won’t hurt at all. He said, “Don’t worry. I’ve done this to a hundred Marines.” With a bandage, after three days I was walking 10 miles a day again. My foot is still recovering but it never once hurt. The alternative? Speed the healing process (at wikiHow), Do not pop unless… (at eHow), The Right Way to “Pop” Blisters” (at It’s quite scary to think what a mess I’d have been in without health care and if I relied solely on Google (which I used to do).