What Google Isn't

The Internet is not a library. The library metaphor presupposes so many things - a central source for resource information, a paid staff dutifully indexing new material as it comes in, a well-understood and rigorously adhered-to ontology - that trying to think of the Internet as a library can be misleading.

Let's take a moment to dispel some of these myths right up front.

  • Google's index is a snapshot of all that there is online. No search engine - not even Google - knows everything. There's simply too much and its all flowing too fast to keep up. Then there's the content Google notices but chooses not to index at all: movies, audio, Flash animations, and innumerable specialty data formats.
  • Everything on the Web is credible. It's not. There are things on the Internet that are biased, distorted, or just plain wrong - whether intentional or not. Visit the Urban Legends Reference Pages (http://www.snopes.com/) for a taste of the kinds of urban legends and other misinformation making the rounds of the Internet.
  • Content filtering will protect you from offensive material. While Google's optional content filtering is good, it's certainly not perfect. You may well come across an offending item among your search results.
  • Google's index is a static snapshot of the Web. It simply cannot be so. The index, as with the Web, is always in flux. A perpetual stream of spiders deliver new-found pages, note changes, and inform of pages now gone. And the Google methodology itself changes as its designers and maintainers learn. Don't get into a rut of searching a particular way; to do so is to deprive yourself of the benefit of Google's evolution.