Saturday, April 11, 2015

Google’s instant


More than 30 years ago, I walked up proudly to a stage before a few thousand people in the city of Ernakulam and received a prize, a good cash amount for a student in those days, from Justice Subramanian Poti.  I had come first in an essay competition organised by the Corporation of Cochin.  It was Professor Primus Perincheri, one of my Malayalam teachers in St Albert’s College, who urged me to participate in the Malayalam essay writing competition.  I had to write 2000 words on a topic that I can’t now recall.  “I’ll help you,” said Prof Perincheri. 

A moment with Justice Poti
There was no computer, internet and Google in 1983.  Being a member of the Ernakulam Public Library, I had access to the reference section which possessed a fabulous collection of encyclopaedias and other reference books as well as back issues of newspapers and periodicals.  I spent two entire days collecting the material for the essay.  I wrote the rough draft of my essay which Prof Perincheri edited before I wrote the final version.

Three decades later, as a teacher of English when I give assignments to my students, what I get is instant work copy-pasted from the internet via Google search and printed out without even being subjected to some basic necessary editing.  When I question the students on the material submitted by them, I get the rude shock: they have not even bothered to read it.

What has Google done to the world?  I asked the question to myself when I saw the latest discussion topic at an Indian bloggers’ community website.*

I rely heavily on Google for a lot of information so much so Google is the home page on every electronic gadget (four in number) I use.  Google literally makes information available at the fingertips.  I don’t need membership in any library anymore.  The arduous journey to the temple of wisdom is unnecessary.  Google is my threshold to that temple now.  The temple travels with me wherever I go.  So life without Google (or any such efficient search engine) would be unimaginable now!

But I’m not sure whether Google and the internet are made proper use of by the youngsters.  Secondly, hasn’t the internet with its bewitching accessories like chat-sites and social networks undermined real relationships?

Two years back, i.e., almost three decades after I had my last encounter with Prof Perincheri, I spoke to him on phone.  A classmate of mine who visited me in Delhi from Ernakulam gave me the professor’s number.  I was reluctant to make the call.  I didn’t want to face the possibility of having been forgotten by one of my favourite teachers.  “He remembers you,” assured Joseph Henry, my classmate who is now a Jesuit priest.  I dialled the number reluctantly and was thrilled beyond words when Prof Perincheri recognised me as soon as I mentioned my name. 

Such surprises and excitements are sure to vanish from the world run by Google and the internet.  In the world of instant links and instant clicks, the soul is left with a longing, a longing for a stirring, a stirring somewhere deep, deep below the instant gratifications.


* Prompted by #worldwithoutgoogle of Indiblogger



15 comments:

  1. Google is my home page as well. All your points about its misuse is valid. But as is the case, every coin has two sides. It depends on the use we put it to.
    I am glad that Google is here to stay. :)

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  2. Google is a politician-cum-father and its upto us how we make use of his power.

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  3. Congratulations for winning the award in those days...!
    More than 70 percent of the internet is misused.

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    Replies
    1. The most interesting thing, when I look back, is the award made little difference except to the professor perhaps. Life was very subdued in those days especially for people like me who didn't know how to use opportunities...

      Not 70% ?

      Delete
  4. Rightly said.. Google is my homepage too but I agree with you regarding the abuse of it .. copy-paste is like a rot in thinking ability but children as well as their wards are actually proud of it !

    PS- I have to stare at the image for a good 7 to 8 minutes before believing it was you and not 'The Shashi Kapoor' accepting the award !!

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    Replies
    1. A colleague of mine made a similar observation about the photo. How time changes us!

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  5. Sure, Google has its advantages. But sometimes I think one of the main reasons for my terrible memory is Google! I don't feel the "need" to remember things and that's sad if you think about it!

    Wow, am I the odd one out here cos Google isn't my homepage.. :D

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    Replies
    1. Technology has affected the younger generation in more ways than the memory. How many people bother to learn the mathematical tables, for example? How many can work out problems mentally? Mental agility is being lost due to over-dependence on the electronic gadgets.

      Don't worry about being the odd one here. You belong to a generation apart :)

      Delete
  6. Beautiful write up....I agree with Preethi that every coin has two sides :)...Not only Google, but Whatsapp, Facebook too have positive and negative effects..... :)

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    Replies
    1. Glad to see you here, Madhumita.

      The two sides are unavoidable. which side gets more chances in the flip is the question :)

      Delete
  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  8. True Google has brought temple of wisdom at our doors. No matter what topic I can always refer to Google and get some informative piece in just few secs. Moreover, since I stay miles away from my family the social media helps me to keep in touch with my near and dear ones without spending huge amount. Without these advancements life would not been so easy.
    Just like said earlier every coin has two sides so its true if the same tools are not used appropriately they can hamper ones standards.

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    Replies
    1. I think we shouldn't be surprised if the younger generation tends to use one side of the coin a bit too much. Weren't we like that when we were young?

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