Saturday, February 26, 2011

How Google and Wikipedia influenced my life

Almost everyone knows about Google and Wikipedia, directly or in directly we use their services and products everyday, let it be Maps or Ads we click on websites or the articles we refer in Wiki for our homework/assignments. Google has some role in our daily lives, in my case Wikipedia & Google has a significant influence. I am a kind of person who never takes anything for granted. I always search for the facts. The availability of information without any hurdles or fabrication is very important. Human knowledge should be free and available to everyone, these are the key factors which lead to the success of Google Search and
Wikipedia. Though there are lot of other sources like the then famous AltaVista, Yahoo and many which we rarely use, they had their time.
It all started as a simple thought (about free knowledge). Back in school we attended a lecture on some science topic at Regional Science Center in tirupati (almost 13 years ago from the year of this post). In the middle of the speech, the guest speaker posed a question to us, it was this What is Manhattan Project ?. We all had a big question mark on our faces, I had no clue, all I had was what I learnt from school textbooks and television, but to all of our surprise one guy stood up and answered Manhattan project is a city in Newyork, the answer was a blunder we didn’t know whether it was correct or not, except the guest, besides this I was never satisfied with my Science Projects, even though I used to secure prizes (a- lot of them!) at school, district and state levels, the dissatisfaction was due to the the lack of information available, it was one of the sponsoring thoughts for me in my quest for knowledge, another time period was my obsession with Telescopes. When I was a kid, I was fascinated and thrilled by the mysteries of Night Sky(I still do), Light and Optics, there was an incident where I nearly missed the risk of loosing my eye sight on some experiments with Sunlight. It's worth explaining this obsession, so, here's the story about my love for Telescopes.
One day me and my family went to Tirumala by walk (there are two ways to Tirumala : by walk and by bus) on our way I came across a guy who was offering a view from a telescope for 1 rupee, and for the first time I saw from a high altitude the zoomed view of some of the places in my hometown. I was completely lost in that amazing experience and obsessed with that technology and the science behind it, for the next 2 to 3 years I spent experimenting with Optics but was never satisfied with the information and sources that was available. There were no proper sources and mostly not enough encouragement from my family and friends but still I’ve tried my best to gather all information from all kinds of sources and successfully constructed my own Telescope (Galilean type). 
Finally everything was changed, I would say that as one of the turning points in my life, that's the time when I encountered the information highway! The Internet, like some 10 years back from the year of this post, we had very few Internet Cafes in my hometown back then. Computers are amazing stuff to me even today, Initially I had no idea about Internet, I though it was installed on a computer. I went to create my yahoo mail on one of my friend’s suggestion, it was bubbly_bobby_cool@yahoo.com, stupid silly ID :D, that was my first encounter. I simply sat for 2 hrs learning how to use a browser and there came my first Google page. Google was in its initial days. The page was the same which we see today but was very simple and very clear to use. There goes my journey into the internet. I found everything in click of a button! information about Telescopes! information about Manhattan project almost everything I could type! Of-course I am not trying to hide my encounters with porn, the confused part of my life:D I realized how insignificant my knowledge was by looking at the Information available, I came across lot of websites with all kinds of information, but I tried to sort out the legitimate sites with credible data. And finally I chose to stick with Wikipedia as one of my major sources of information, thou the information in it is not complete, but at least it has some information about what is what and references. I have lot of respect for this particular site. Google Search is just a search engine used to narrow down your queries to results as URLs, basically Google Search is an indexing service implemented to index all the websites around the world using bots called web crawlers. We can hack and tweak results using special operators and conditions and also we can perform advanced search which increases the accuracy of a query, and Google Search engine is very good at this. Recently lot of companies implemented their own indexing services which includes Microsoft Bing. Microsoft is shameless in copying, It was practically proved that Microsoft is routing the queries from Bing to Google, and reroute the results back to the end user with a mix of their inefficient search results. (click here to read detailed info). Keeping this aside, on the other hand Wikipedia is a free Encyclopedia and is very famous, it has almost all the information you ever want! starting from fruit salads to the String theory/11-dimension universe
bvkmohan, bvkmohan.blogspot.in, Wikipedia content, wikipediaWikipedia has done a really good job in consolidating all the information into one single place and I am really happy to use their invaluable service, the information hosted is available for free and is in open formats in more than 250 languages, and the best part is anyone can edit the articles hosted in Wikipedia (there was lot of controversies around this, but now Wikipedia has full knowledge base from major universities around the world who takes care of accuracy in its information and moderation). Both Google and Wikipedia are my main sources of knowledge. I think the young generations and the educational institutions should know about these powerful sources. The entire education system in primary schools are nothing but a wild goose chase. They diminish the creative power in children, these primary education systems are nothing but tools to prepare a child to survive in a competitive world and become another robot. Anyways they can learn these stuff in later stages but if they are taught at early level, they would significantly improve in all aspects. Hope you liked this article. Thanks for reading!

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