Hendrik writes about Google vs. OpenSource. He’s working on a presentation that can be summed up as OpenSource has at least two items of everything (Konqueror and Firefox; MySQL and PostgreSQL; *BSD and Linux; younameit and whatsitsname), but only one search engine - Google.
A not so technical point coming to my attention frequently is journalistic work backed up by Google data or even articles thoroughly based the result count of a Google query (“Woohoo Janet Jackson must have been quite popular last year due to 1718231092747 results for her name on our beloved queen of search engines.”).
One of the first lessons a journalist learns, heck, the one thing you learn pretty quickly when dealing with media is checking your source and trying to get an independet backup on whatever information you hear or read, before beginning to trust it. Now those who should be media-experts and profesisonals on dealing with information just go and find something on Google and say “Wo, that’s cool, I put that into print”.
This is not limited to yellow press or semi-legitimate papers, I found occurences of Goornalism in everything from conservative newspapers to post-teen magazines.
Google is a tool and, from what most people need, a very good one. It finds whatever you are looking for and it helps organizing massive amounts of information with its news and gmail services. It is reported to have a 40% marked share in the US and 80% in Germany - people appreciate it. Google gets used. “Googling” became a synonym for “searching the web” years ago.
Modern goornalists however, seem to have forgotten the very principles of their craft. Google is one (1, one) of many sources. It is not a complete and comprehensive image of reality (there is a company behind it, with huge financial interest). It may be complete enough for the average Joe, his foreign cousin Otto Normalverbraucher and most OpenSource developers. It is not even bad to use Google.
But Google is only a tool, not a resource for absolute wisdom or knowledge. There is a difference between what it reports and reality.