Human Google

Human GoogleWhen in London it’s hard not to overhear what people around you are saying. You are surrounded by people on the bus, the tube, and sidewalk. Even in my flat, I can hear what the neighbors or people outside are talking about. Maybe that’s why strangers don’t go out of their way to greet you like someone in Kansas might—there are just too many voices all around and seeing one more person is not an event.

Yesterday, I overheard a conversation that included this:

“When I get home, I’ll ask my neighbor. The guy is a human Google.”

I had to think about that a moment. I had heard people use the phrase “human encyclopedia” to describe someone that seems to know a little about everything. But a human Google takes it to the next level—just another example of the changes influencing our everyday life and lexicon.

There was something just not quite right about a human Google so I continued to listen and the conversation added a few disclaimers.

“He’ll spit out a hundred ideas and maybe four or five of them will be worth looking into. He’s good to talk with but he’ll just go on and on… and he never knows what to do with his ideas.”

Aha! The human Google may not have the precision of a human encyclopedia. That does seem to be the direction we are heading—a clutter of information, some of which is useful and some, not so much. The human Google supplies the list but it is up to us to filter it.

Maybe the guy I overheard needs a new friend, a “human Wolfram Alpha”

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