Remember When We Used to Use Search Engines?

“Back in the day we had to type in what we wanted to know into a search engine – but not like a question or anything, just some keywords – and hope that those were keywords on some web page that might answer our questions. And then we would get a list of thousands of sites that use those words. Some of them were useful, but most of them weren’t and it was up to us to sift through to find the answers we wanted. And there were ads too – companies would try to match what they were selling to those words we might search for. And there was a whole industry that managed this!”

One day we will sit around and tell the story to our younger colleagues who will laugh and be amazed that anyone lived that way. You know it will happen.

But what will the world look like after search engines? It won’t happen all at once, and in fact we have already seen the beginning of the post-search world. Every time Siri tells Zooey Deschanel that it’s raining or someone uses “monocle mode” in Yelp to find good eats across the street, or someone gets an alert that his favorite band is in town, a little part of the old search world dies.

  • It’s 10pm in the future. Your fridge knows you have no food. Your stove and microwave know you haven’t cooked. The cat video you are watching on your livingroom wall (painted with HD paint) is overlayed with a promotion for 20% off your favorite Chinese delivery. Why yes, you would like your usual!
  • Driving home from work in your super-futuristic car (still not a flying car sorry – but let’s say it’s at least self-driving) and you’re running a little low on fuel (hydrogen? water? trash?). Do you do a search for the closest station? Heck no. Futurecar just tells you it is heading to one of your preferred fuel providers (and giving you the option to reroute to a promoted station).
  • You are walking down the street with your connected glasses and pass by a hot dog stand (yes – these will still exist) and you pause to consider a snack. In front of your eyes you are given a rundown on the very high nitrate content of the hot dog in question. Luckily in the future they have discovered that nitrates are actually good for you. Get one with everything, my future friend!

The post-search world is coming even if hot dogs don’t become health food – though it’s clear that we are halfway there. When I went to double check how to spell Ms. Deschanel’s name, all I typed was “Zooe” and I was already given a full listing of all her info –directly from Google – without having to even hit enter. I now know her middle name is Claire and she weighs 127.9 lbs (that is creepily specific, Google). I didn’t even know I wanted to know this info! The future is bright!

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