I didn’t know the author. I didn’t know the title. I didn’t even know what it was about. All I had was a vague memory of a picture that had an escalator in it and the knowledge that I had loved that book.
It was a children’s book that my grandparents had owned. They had a whole collection of books that they kept for us when we came over, and I remembered the names of almost all of them, except this one.
I was determined to hunt it down, but how do you find something when you have no information? I scoured Google. I even signed up (it cost me $2) to a website on which a team of people will use all their book-knowledge to try to find a book for you based on the most limited information.
The escalator page! The only semi-clear thing I could remember.
I kid you not, all I knew was that it was a children’s book that probably pre-dated the eighties, was possibly about going to work, possibly had a train station in it, and had a picture of an escalator in what was possibly a department store. Try typing that into Google!
So, imagine my elation when, after a couple of years, I found the book during a Google search. I recognized the cover immediately and wasted no time in ordering a secondhand copy.
I’m now convinced that I can find anything online!
Do you have any long-lost books that you’ve been trying to find for ages?
I hope the idea of Google as a crystal ball seems absurd to you. It does to me too, but sometimes, I’m afraid, my actions tell differently.
We live in a world engorged with information. Decades ago, if we were driving home and thought of something we wanted to find out, we’d think, ‘I’ll have to get down to the library sometime this week and look that up.’ Now we try to stop ourselves from googling while driving.
We have become so accustomed to having information at our fingertips, that the concept that something may be unknowable is virtually inconceivable.
Quantities of information beyond our comprehension have become a cheap commodity; an expectation. Google has become our all-knowing god; our source of all truth. I fear that far too often we forget that it has limitations. For example, it cannot tell the future.
I’m ashamed to admit it (though I suspect I’m not alone) that I have, on occasion, asked (or been tempted to ask) the Google-god things that it cannot know. ‘What should I do in this situation?’ ‘Am I going to get married?’ ‘Will that student ever mature into a decent human being?’
We humans have become inflated with information to the point that we tend to believe there is nothing we (or Google) cannot know. Remember this human: Our knowledge is but a drop in the ocean. And the future is, as it always has been, in the mind and hand of the Almighty alone.