Monday, December 09, 2002

Newsweek -- The World According to Google

What if you had a magic tool that let you find out almost anything in less than a second? Millions of people already have it—and it’s changing the way we live

With virtually no marketing, Google is now the fourth most popular Web site in the world—and the Nos. 1 and 3 sites (AOL, Yahoo) both license Google technology for their Web searches. About half of all Web searches in the world are performed with —Google, which has been translated into 86 languages. The big reason for the success? It works. Not only does Google dramatically speed the process of finding things in the vast storehouse of the Web, but its power encourages people to make searches they previously wouldn’t have bothered with. Getting the skinny from Google is so common that the company name has become a verb. The usage has even been anointed by an instantly renowned New Yorker cartoon, where a barfly admits to a friend that “I can’t explain it—it’s just a funny feeling I’m being Googled.”

When Judge Richard Posner wrote a book recently to identify the world’s leading intellectuals, he used Google hits as a key criterion. When the Chinese government decided that the Web offered its citizenry an overly intimate view of the world outside its borders, what better way to pull down the shades than to block Google? (Within a week the Chinese changed direction; Google was too useful to withhold.) Companies that do business online have become justifiably obsessed with Google’s power. “If you drop down on Google, your business can come to a screeching halt,” says Greg Boser of WebGuerilla, an Internet consultancy. And if two clashing egos want to see whose Google is bigger, they need only venture to a Web site like GoogleFight to compare results.

Google’s main efforts have been in collecting more information to search, and providing new ways to do it. The home page now includes a means to search the Web for images, and there’s also a Google dictionary and a Google phone book. If your results are in a foreign language, Google will translate for you. Coming next are special searches for products and quotations.

A recent triumph is Google News, which scours news sites for up-the-the-minute stories, automatically arranging them into a Web page similar to those posted by CNN or Yahoo.

I'm a googler from way back.

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