Saturday, September 03, 2011

If you have a question... (UPDATED AT BOTTOM)

...where would you turn for an answer?

In our ever-more-common "Google it" world, I wonder if people are indeed turning to the right places for an answer.

Perhaps more importantly, in using a search engine for such answers, are people aware that they are denying themselves an opportunity to engage someone else in what could be a fruitful conversation?

The Internet is a wonderful thing, don't get me wrong; and I use it for a variety of purposes. But it struck me the other day when I was curious about something that I felt almost embarrassed when I thought about approaching one of my colleagues for a possible answer.

I could almost hear the "well, just Google (or Bing or Yahoo!) it" words in my head. And the funny thing is that the person I was thinking about asking wouldn't have told me to go to the 'net. Because our offices sit side-by-side we often have conversations on multiple issues when we are in our offices. Asking a question would have been no big deal, in other words.

Yes, the Internet can provide us answers, but it essentially tells us the answers. Yes, we can go to another site, should we want to take the time, to find a different perspective, but the reality is that the 'net is a one-stop-place for answers -- find what you want and then get out.

Absent is the chance to ask a question. Neglected is the connections that come from a personal conversation.

Is this a big deal? Or am I worrying about something trivial?

1st UPDATE: 11:48 a.m. EDT: One of my former students -- Amanda Mihailoff -- sent the following response to my Facebook page.
Depends on the question at hand.

Anyone can post anything on the Internet but do we really know if who posted the information is truly someone we should be asking? Sure, I'm trained to tell the differnce between .com, .gov, .org, etc. A lot of people may not know how to evaluate the source.

People typical ask someone in-person questions to those they feel know the subject matter. And asking in-person allows for better response for follow-up questions. I think people are less inclined to "Google" answers to follow-up questions, thus limiting themselves to asking a question, finding any answer and being satisified...just accepting the answer at face value, without depth.

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