Googling is a skill

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While Einstein was in Boston, staying at the Hotel Copley Plaza, he was given a copy of Edison’s questionnaire to see whether he could answer the questions. As soon as he read the question:

“What is the speed of sound?” Einstein: “I don’t know. I don’t burden my memory with such facts that I can easily find in any textbook.”

Google is the modern-day equivalent of textbooks. Search engines are one of the most powerful tools ever created by humankind, but like every other tool, it takes time and practice to master their use. Most of us started googling to copy-paste our homework in middle school and then expanded our horizons to probably cheat on an exam. I know I did. Because, let’s face it - it is not possible for the human mind to store unlimited amounts of information. But how can you make your search better? There’s a YouTube video essay version of this, if you are fond of visual content.

Make it a habit

This is a fundamental overview of some of the Google search tips I use to speed up my search and also to find more relevant and hopefully accurate results.

Some basic tips

Simple keywords: weather, airport, coffee, supermarket Instant calculator Instant converter

And yes, that’s right, you can use words and symbols in your day-to-day search to make your results more precise.

Search for an exact match

Put a word or phrase inside quotes. For example, “tallest building”.

Search for a price

Put $ in front of a number. For example: gaming PC $600. Search within a range of numbers Put .. between two numbers. For example, gaming PC $600..$1000

Combine searches

add “OR” between each search query. For example, marathon OR race. add “vs” between each search query. For example, visualize vs visualise

Search for a specific site

add “site:” in front of a site or domain. For example,

Search social media

add @ in front of a word to search social media. For example: @twitter.

Search hashtags

add # in front of a word. For example: #throwbackfriday

Sometimes memorizing stuff can be a waste of time. And this is why you are searching through the greatest and largest almanac in the history of humankind. You then try to google your way out of a test, a quiz, or a tricky question. You google how to talk to the opposite sex, what you should say, what you should do. You google everything. Later you start doing fancier stuff. You want to create a blog. You start writing. You google how to do that. You decide that going through the full cycle is too complicated. So you create a free WordPress blog and start writing. Then you have a micro-project going on. You keep googling. You keep going. Googling can help you see the bigger picture or can keep you away from seeing the bigger picture. You google books, documentaries, facts, fake news, everything and nothing at the same time. You are slaloming through everything. You get things wrong. You get things right. Just remember. Googling can make you better. You connect with people having the same interests. You quickly make a rough idea of the optimal roller blading position.

Googling makes you a better cook, a better writer, musician, programmer. Nowadays most development work requires expert googling skills. You are building on the shoulders of giants through fast learning of how new technologies work, debugging code, or simply reading and understanding the code written by those more advanced than you.

Whether it’s learning a new technology, debugging code, or understanding code written by others, googling teaches you how to ask better questions so you can get better results. It teaches you how to play around with data structures. By doing a ton of googling you can learn how to better assess the quality of the websites you are visiting, and the quality of the information.

Googling is now a term. And while this might change in the future, searching the internet is going to be a thing until we learn how to plug our heads into the cloud and become connected to the internet, able to search by simply thinking.