Google Reveals What “How To” Info We Want

Because of Google’s methods popularity and/or importance are finally accurately quantified. It seems so wrong to take emotional concepts like important and popular and make them the output of a series of mathematical equations, but that’s exactly what happens!

In 1999’s Bowfinger Steve Martin knew how importance was defined.

“See that FedEx truck? Every day it delivers important papers to people all over the world. And one day, it is going to stop here, and a man is going to walk up and casually toss a couple of FedExes on my desk. And at that moment, we – and by we, I mean me – will be important. “

The paradigm has shifted. Our new arbiter is Google&#185.

Because of Google’s methods popularity and/or importance are finally accurately quantified. It seems so wrong to take emotional concepts like important and popular and make them the output of a series of mathematical equations, but that’s exactly what happens!

google-on-how-to.jpgMy ‘aha’ moment came earlier this evening. I was trying to learn how to scoop data from an online database and massage it to produce a webpage. Actually what I wanted to do was unimportant because I only got as far as typing in “how to.”

Google was now working ahead of me, anticipating what I might type next. It unfurled a list of the most popular “how to” questions.

  • how to tie a tie.
  • how to kiss
  • how to get pregnant
  • how to lose weight fast
  • how to cook a turkey
  • how to solve a rubix cube
  • how to make a website
  • how to download youtube videos
  • how to write a resume
  • how to lose weight

I am surprised tying a tie has reached this level. Look a the competition it’s knocked off. Maybe I’m jaded because I tie one every day (Double Windsor knot), but I didn’t think there was this level of demand.

Considering “how to lose weight” appears in two different forms (normal and panicky) it probably belongs higher on the list.

Cooking a turkey and solving a rubix are both surprising entries, but just barely.

I’m not sure what’s more surprising–that there’s nothing truly weird or that the list is really so pedestrian.

Is this all we really want to know “how to” do? Can’t we get a little more creative?

&#185 – I know Google is the authority because if you enter “Geoff,” I’m the sixth result. On Bing I didn’t show up in the first six pages of results. Yahoo! doesn’t list me through ten pages.

You Go Google

It is tough to turn on a financial show, or look at the Business Section of the Times, without reading more and more about Google. They have announced their IPO, and the two geeky boys who came up with the idea will be wealthy beyond anyone’s imagination.

If PR were the arbiter of how company’s do financially (and often, it is not), Google would be high atop the pack. Microsoft would be down at the bottom.

Google built its reputation by doing what it does – searching – better and faster than anyone else. There were plenty of search engines before Google, but none as good. And they did it without cluttering up the landscape with intrusive commercial content.

Stop and think for a moment of what Google has to do to perform searches for you. It seems as if they have the entire Internet cached on their servers – every single byte! Recent educated rumors say they have somewhere near 100,000 servers scattered around the globe.

Did I mention, it’s free!

After years of court battles, commissions and hearings, Microsoft is often referred to (at least on hobbyist bulletin boards) as the “Evil Empire.” Until recently, I had never seen anyone ever say a bad word about Google. There are concerns about Google’s new Gmail and its privacy implications – but even then, Google is criticized for underestimating the worry, as opposed to being a bad company.

Maybe I’m oversimplifying, but it seems the traits one normally needs to make a lot of money are hardly ever benevolent. So, Google comes across as a breath of fresh air because their whole reason for being seems to be based upon benevolence. And, the numbers seem to say, benevolence can work.

Wouldn’t you want your boss to speak like this as a letter to potential Google shareholders from company founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin did? The letter is located in Google’s registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission:

Our employees, who have named themselves Googlers, are everything. Google is organized around the ability to attract and leverage the talent of exceptional technologists and business people. We have been lucky to recruit many creative, principled and hard working stars. We hope to recruit many more in the future. We will reward and treat them well.

We provide many unusual benefits for our employees, including meals free of charge, doctors and washing machines. We are careful to consider the long term advantages to the company of these benefits. Expect us to add benefits rather than pare them down over time. We believe it is easy to be penny wise and pound foolish with respect to benefits that can save employees considerable time and improve their health and productivity.

The significant employee ownership of Google has made us what we are today. Because of our employee talent, Google is doing exciting work in nearly every area of computer science. We are in a very competitive industry where the quality of our product is paramount. Talented people are attracted to Google because we empower them to change the world; Google has large computational resources and distribution that enables individuals to make a difference. Our main benefit is a workplace with important projects, where employees can contribute and grow. We are focused on providing an environment where talented, hard working people are rewarded for their contributions to Google and for making the world a better place.

Here’s a success story where the main characters get rich because of what they did and did well – not because they screwed the other guy or played hardball in business or did anything underhanded.

Wake me. I must be dreaming.