Google is like primitive stone chisel

An online book on starting a business features Google ads for lawnmower blades. The point: search is primitive, and has near limitless growth potential.
Stephen Baker

Why is Internet search the industry of the future? Because today's versions are so excruciatingly primitive. The engines are implacable and undiscriminating, a little like the giant food processors in Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, which treated fallen factory workers as just another pig.

Case in point. I'm looking through Bruce Judson's online book, Go it Alone, which is financed by "contextual" ads on every page. (Thanks BuzzMachine) On page 89, he's giving advice to would-be entrepreneurs, and I see ads for lawnmower blades. Turns out that one of the startup examples he gives is for a retail gardening business.

"If Google's not good," my 13-year-old says to me, "then why are, like, 10 billion people searching on it?"

The answer, of course, is that today's search engines are extremely useful tools for us. We're like the sore-fingered cavemen who when handed a stone chisel consider it a gift from the Gods. But once we have search that does a better job understanding context, we're going to look back on today's search and wonder how we ever stood for it.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.