Monday, 5 March 2012

Google Is Not An Academic Data Base

Vaidyhyanathan suggests, in his book The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry) that knowledge is confrontation of the “new and different”. He believes that Google filters each individual’s searches, and therefor they cannot gain insightful knowledge, but simply confirm what they already know, preventing them from “higher education”.

The Googlization of students, Vaidyhyanathan argues is that students especially, those in post-secondary education, are using Google as a primary source for information.  The arguments in The Googlization of Everything fear that Google is shaping the minds and expectations of students when it comes to any search engine. This is troublesome for academic searches, because if students are confused at the lack of immense simplicity they will ultimately retreat to Google.

Research is a vital part of education, and learning how to properly conduct research, through academic sources, is critical for students independency. Google is a tool that should be used for basic searches, to rely on this tool for depth into academic inquiries is unrealistic. The fact is that there are certain features which Google, neither has, nor should attempt to conceive.  To think of Google as shopping plaza or mall is similar to think of academic searches as a library; these are separate locations, and convey separate messages. The library is place for knowledge, to grasp meaning and plunge the depth of something new and mindfully intriguing, where the mall or plaza is an activity partaken in to rest the mind, to pursue less significant actions such as shopping, eating and chatting.

It is important that we keep in mind that academic institutions are accessible and driven to cater to the students as their dominant research tool. At the University of Guelph-Humber for example, they take the library and online data bases extremely serious and ensure the students are able to grasp a full understanding of every aspect related to these outlets. Librarians are assigned to each program, and present their knowledge to each class with the hopes of establishing a proper relationship between the students and their research assignments.

Because books are not the dominant resource for today’s students, the online data bases are designed to be accessible and informative. Students are able to access these research tools from anywhere on campus. With this being said, books should not be overlooked as they have been, and still are an incredibly reliable source. The reason students are overlooking these books and scanning the Google search results is laziness; it is difficult for our minds to immerse into a book, for a long period. Our attention span is dwindling because of the amount of other activity surrounding us; it is difficult to focus completely on one subject for any amount of time. This is not to say reading is dying, it is to say we are less disciplinary when it comes to books, newspapers, and magazines.

Even Google books are attempting to maintain literature in people’s lives, although it is online, perhaps Google will attract the readers that already use it as a search tool. I can agree with most of Vaidyhyanathan’s skeptical outlooks on the Googlization of everything, I agree that Google is a tool for secondary cognitive inquiries such as song lyrics, directions, or restaurant reviews, but not for primary academic research. Libraries and data bases have a purpose that cannot be overthrown by Googles intent to constantly absorb people’s minds.  

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