The smartphone is our bucket…

July 8, 2017

In a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack Freed shared this little quote – “Our knowledge is a little island in a great ocean of knowledge.”  (Isaac Bashevis Singer).  Jack went on to write – A little boy kept dipping a pail into the sea and running back to pour it into a hole.  “What are you doing?” someone asked.  “I’m emptying the ocean into this hole.” He replied.  Basically, that explains our quest for knowledge. 

Perhaps one appeal of the modern smartphone is that it acts like that little boy’s bucket and allows us to empty the ocean of knowledge into the hole in or heads. When webrain map constantly “Google” things we are emptying the ocean of knowledge into our heads, one bucket-load at a time, at least that’s a rationalization that I like to think justifies my constant use of my smartphone.

Some people joke that their phone is smarter than they are and for some that may be true; however, the phone is just a conduit (a bucket, if you will) for accessing the vast ocean of knowledge that is floating all around us in the ubiquitous “cloud”. The Google search app just happens to be one of the better ways to access that knowledge. Google is just the modern and fast way to do what we’ve always done – look for and read and process information.

In the “good ole days” we might go to the library and look something up in a dictionary or an encyclopedia. It was a time-consuming exercise and perhaps not always successful, since you had to know where to look. Just like a Google search using the wrong search terms, you could end up not finding what you were looking for in the books that the library had available.  Now we literally have all the books right at hand through the women with open mindInternet and Google; however, if the results that you needed were on page 10 of the Goggle search results you may never find them. At the library we were shown how to use the card catalogue and the Dewey Decimal System to look up various books (undoubtedly now available on a computer at the library). Today we have to learn how to formulate the right inquiry for a search engine, in order to find what we need.

There are lots of bad habits that we can get into with modern technology, including the use of it while driving, and the pitfalls of the use of social media have been well documented. The use of modern technology and the search apps that are available is probably one of the good uses. Others, such as GPS-enables maps and location-based local information are good time-savers. Of course there are the amusements, too – gamesknowledge in and music and video – which, if managed properly can be good things. All-in-all the smartphone is a great bucket to be carrying around with us, so long as we do not let it turn into a crutch that replaces thinking and good decision making or a master to which we become enslaved.

Got to go. I found a great event to go to today by Goggling “events in the local area”.

Take a minute to think about it…

August 17, 2015

“Ours is a generation bloated with information and starved for wisdom.”  (Arianna Huffington) – as seen on  the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

While it is ubiquitous and easy to use, Google has also encouraged intellectual laziness. The Google answers returned are also not always even correct or the truth; however, as a society we’ve become such Google knowledge inzombies that we tend to believe whatever we see there, without taking the time to think about it. We consume the “information” that is returned, but do not necessarily make the effort to evaluate it and to add it to our store of knowledge and wisdom. It’s just as easy to go get it at Google again the next time that we need it.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the store of available information at Google is tremendous and it does make many things in life much easier than they used to be. It is our own mental laziness that detracts from the potential value of having all of that information at hand. It is a thought pattern that says, “Why learn it when you can just Google it?” The easiest answer is that learning leads to wisdom and it is that ability to learn and accumulate wisdom that separates us from the other animals.

thinking womanSo, the next time you Google something to get directions or get an answer to a question, take the time to evaluate the answer that you get and to find a place for those answers that seem valid in your storehouse of wisdom. Don’t just accept the first answer at the top of the returns, without checking a few further down the list; and always take the time to understand who posted that answer and consider why. That is especially true on the Wiki posts that you might get back, since anybody can post things there true or not.

Speaking of that, there is a little routine that a local sportscaster does from time to time called, “I saw it on the Internet, so it must be true.”  Too many people have come to believe that little statement and accept things that they see on the Internet as the truth. The Internet probably has nearly as many hoax posts and false posts as it has valuable information. Anything that you see on the Internet should be viewed with at least a critical eye, if not a skeptical one.

Remember, too, that companies and people pay Google for placement in their query returns. So, when you ask a question like “which is the best of something” or “where is the cheapest place to”, you will likely get back answers that someone has paid to put in front of you, rather than an honest answer to your question. Most of the times you’ll probably get ads back first. Ask for low cost hotels somewhere and you’ll be deluged with ads for travel sites, rather than any real hotel information. Maybe the “wisdom” there is realizing that Google won’t really answer your question. See, you learned something by taking a minute to think about it. You’ve added to yourman thinking wisdom.

Perhaps, instead of starting down at your smartphone to see what Google says is going on in the area around you, you should put it away and actually start seeing and doing the things that are going on around you. It’s called living and the thing that you gain by doing it is called wisdom. Google that.

Google – Have they become the bully in the room?

February 12, 2015

Recently I got an email that started off…

Hi Webmaster,

Due to Google’s algorithmic changes we reviewed’s (the real URL is unimportant to this discussion) link profile for our client.  Our client has asked us to request removal of their content / specific links to their site.

The link(s) your site has to our client’s site are on the list of links needing to be removed.  We respectfully ask that you remove these links. Blah, blah, blah…

I’m a Realtor® and I own and maintain several web sites that are aimed at providing useful information to people who may be interested in the learning more about the real estate process or who may wish to buy or sell a house.  As part of the content of my real estate web sites, I have written a series of informational articles, which are available there and I have researched the Internet for other sites that have useful information about the real estate process or information on ancillary topics that I feel my customers might want.

I’m not an expert on many of the topics that might be helpful for my clients, so I established links to those web sites that have articles posted by people who are experts. Those topics might include things like advice for people getting divorces (real estate usually plays into that action), or people dealing with the estates of recently deceased family members, or people with tax questions about the sale of a property, or any number of other topical areas for which there are great web sites with meaningful reading for my clients. The link mentioned above was one such link. I also note that I have never asked any of those sites for as reciprocal link back to my sites and as far as I know none have ever placed links back to my sites.

Now, due to “Google’s algorithmic changes” more than one of the web sites that I have links to for my client’s benefit have sent me similar emails, asking that the links be removed. Google somehow ends up being happier (I guess) and the web sites that I remove the links to end up being less threatened by Google (I guess) and I know that my clients end up with less helpful information on those topics. It doesn’t make sense. It’s unfortunate that an algorithm, instead of a live person, makes those calls, since any reasonable person after looking at the page and links in question could have seen that they were not SEO-driven links meant to game the system, but rather an integral part of the service that I was trying to render to my clients through my site.

Let me hasten to add that I understand that the whole search environment has ended up being compromised and perverted by the SEO crowd who make their money trying to game the Google and Bing search algorithms and achieve a higher ranking for their clients (likely higher than the sites deserve, based upon their content and real value). Not a week goes by that I don’t get 3-4 calls from these helpful people, many of whom try to use high-pressure sales techniques to get me to sign up. I have never used an SEO company and never will; but I have witnessed the corruption of the original intent of the Internet and of search engines, because of the greed and lack of scruples of many of hose SEO companies. They have mostly succeeded in closing out the little guys who have honest, simple little web site and no money for SEO. I think that is what Google has been working to try to prevent, but in their quest to outsmart the SEO crowd they have ended up becoming the bully in the room and compromised their own motto of “do no harm” (or “do no evil”). Perhaps we little guy web sites have just become collateral damage in the constant war between Google and SEO’ers trying to game their system.

I even get emails directly from Google telling me how I have to change my web sites to be more “mobile friendly” or face the wrath of the Google algorithm and relegation to the search results hinterlands. I’m working on that, but it’s not always easy for a one-man show to keep up with the demands of Google. Somehow, Google has become much less like the friendly Wizard depicted in the movie The Wizard of Oz and much more like the sinister and controlling wizard of the play Wicked. Unfortunately, banishment from the favor of Google means far worse than banishment from Oz. It means you are relegated to page 20 or higher in the search results and your web site becomes invisible, a non-entity. Monkeys really will fly before anyone sees your site. That is really sad and not at all consistent with the original intent of search engines.

So; off I go to remove links on my web sites that lead to great content on other web sites for my clients; not because they still aren’t very good places to visit with meaningful content, but because they offend the great and powerful Oz, oops I meant Google Algorithm. Hopefully, you’ll still be able to find my websites; but you might have difficulty if you Google them, because I’ll probably be invisible there, somewhere down around page 40 or 50 in the search results, I suppose. I may end up so far down the Google results list that only Bing will be able to find my sites. Oh, the pain of it all! Oops, I hope that link was alright. Oh, that’s right, I forgot, Google owns YouTube, too. Now I’ll get emails from YouTube asking me to remove that link from this post. Sigh!