Do I Even Need Google?

I used to think my life depended on Google -- specifically, Google Search. Now I'm not so sure. I'm not talking about using an alternate search engine such as Bing or Duck Duck Go -- I'm talking about not using a search engine at all. Here's why.

I mostly search for three kinds of things:

  • answers to programming questions
  • answers to general knowledge questions
  • things to buy

Not long ago, those three categories were populated by millions of webpages, out of which Google would extract the best and most relevant information. Then consolidation happened:

  • I only shop on Amazon
  • Wikipedia has answers about everything
  • more importantly (because as an engineer, this is my livelihood), every programming question is answered on StackOverflow

So, at least in theory, were Google Search not around anymore, I could search each "category killer" separately.

It's true that search engines for specific web applications are very bad (Amazon's A9 being the worst of the worst); they're so bad that we will continue to use Google to search inside one website (using site:) instead of going to the website and search from there. But they're not so bad that we couldn't use them if Google were suddenly unavailable.

Of course, like everybody else, I still use Google Search every day; but for the first time I realize I could do without it. I used to be afraid -- and now I'm not. This is quite novel.

Sun, 24 Mar 2013 • permalink