Google

Is “one of the four search engines that matter.” (Again, to be ironic, try typing search or search engine. It surprisingly yields Search.com and SearchEngineWatch as its top results — respectively, right now.)

googleascii

Google was introduced to me by Leo Laporte on the then TechTV (in Call For Help I suppose), and he related how this search engine searched differently: the most popular pages appear at the top of the results. From a moral standpoint, of course, popularity doesn’t equal quality, so unconsciously, I was wary of it. But somewhere in the back of our minds we all knew it would be in the spotlight soon. It then became the homepage of my school library PCs. Everything became hazy after that.

The Wordplay

Googol
Coined by Milton Sirotta, the nine year-old nephew of mathematician Edward Kasner. It is the number 1 followed by one hundred zeros.

Googolplex
1 followed by a googol of zeroes, and is also the name of Google’s headquarters.

Go ogle
As it appeared in Jame Joyce’s Finnegans Wake as: “who thought him a Fonar all, feastking of shellies by googling Lovvey”

Back Links

BackRub was the name of the search engine Larry Page and Sergey Brin first developed in 1996, which analyzed “back links” pointing to a site. The two were graduate students of Computer Science in Stanford, too — Yahoo! founder David Filo was their friend and saw potential in their work. But he urged them to make the business grow first.

But Google looked like no other search engine portal — it wasn’t claiming to be a portal, after all — or any business idea for that matter. It was clean, neat, simple, playful. Too good (or unserious?) to be true. Everyone became a Fanatic, and in one way or another, the world was hooked.

You know you’ve made it when a kid is named after you. Or when professions are being devoted to cracking the algorithms driven by their engine, so that business can do better. Or even ways to get around it.

Will Google ever grow evil? Has it? Competition certainly believes so, sometimes with more expletives than some would expect.I think I’d like to credit them more for conventions they’ve shaken up, with tricks up their sleeve you’d never expect. In a world where service revolved around the user (finally, a great way for corporations to think), Google’s growth — especially with the number of applications it has churned out so far (too many to count that you have to keep track of them) — has created this certain kind of symbiosis (no, not just a following) on a slightly smarter level.

Take GMail, for example. Personally, the “@gmail.com” address didn’t look pretty at all; I would have enjoyed “@google.com” a lot more, just as with Yahoo! had done with their mail. But after almost two years since it first released a never-before-seen 1 GB of storage, with constantly new, pioneering features other mail clients never really thought of providing all these years, I’ve only been using 16% of my now twopointsomething GB (but supposedly infinite) mailbox.

Folders, replaced by labels, probably paved the way for tagging and the death of hierarchical folders. It’s skinnable (in Mozilla), and can even serve as a virtual hard drive — while never having to delete anything again, indeed. But autosaving messages are most indispensible for me; I typed this post inside GMail to avoid losing my work in WordPress. Read your site feeds, download all attachments as a zip, or preview them immediately. Tons more things you can do await. Google made sure it was flexible for everyone — whether as users or software developers.

GMail is one of the prism’s faces that show a certainly different approach to solving problems. It is a growing school of thought that many other small applications seem to be adopting. Google’s ways are considered a great example of the new way in which applications are fashioned.

Enter the era of the Web 2.0. Portals were 1.0.

Footnote: The History of Google in ASCII is from Google Blogoscoped.

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