Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Maybe all this googly stuff is worth something after all

Well, I never really doubted it, but it's good to have a working example from time to time.

A friend called, saying they were at a pizza shop on Smith Street (that's not exactly what happened, but let's say it is). The shop was next to a big red brick building. Could I come pick them up? Before they could relay any more detail, their cell phone went dead.

So I went to Google, searched for "pizza" "smith street" <my town>. Up came a little map with pizza shops marked. Two were even on Smith Street. I then clicked on the little push-pins for the two shops and checked the street view. Only one was next to a big red building. Voila!

I plugged the address into my GPS (I'm pretty sure in some setups that can happen automagically), set off, and sure enough, there was my friend waiting. Just like the breathless descriptions you'd see about how the web was going to Change Everything, with the added bonus that it actually happened.

That probably came off as overly cynical, so let me climb down a bit: A lot of the technology and trends that have been hyped over the years have actually happened. Phones, computers and TVs really are converging towards each other. You really can find all sorts of useful information and belong to far-flung virtual communities over the web. You can even shop and bank on the web.

I'm not down on the technology. I'm not even particularly down on the hype. Hype happens. If people didn't get excited about cool technology we wouldn't have any. Nonetheless, I can't help feeling that, with all these changes, my life is essentially the same -- even taking into account that it would have been a lot harder to track down my friend without the web.wizardry. Sure, technology can be disruptive, but most of it isn't, at least not as quickly or in the ways people often seem to imagine it to be.

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