Many Pies

Many Pies

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Is looking stuff up on Google doing work?

(I was going to tweet this, but my thoughts started to fill more than 140 characters.)

While working at home one of my children made the observation "you're just looking stuff up on Google, that's not work".

I was actually looking stuff up on stackoverflow.com, or more precisely, finding out what technique the Google analytics tracking code uses.

I said that I was doing work. It made me think, though, that "looking stuff up on Google" is a useful skill. Not just looking stuff up, because we all do that, but quickly finding solutions to problems that you face.

A while back someone (and here my Google searching skills have failed me) wrote on their blog what they put on a job application form under "preferred programming language":

  1. BBC Basic
  2. Any language + Google
In my job I dip in and out of various languages - Javascript, PHP, ASP.Net - and for using those using Google, stackoverflow and MSDN is essential. I can't remember the arguments for PHP's strcmp function, but I just search for "PHP strcmp" and I'm there. So yes, "any language + Google" covers it.

For software development it's not very controversial to say that web searching skills are necessary. The same is true for other IT related skills, as IT people have often been the first to share their knowledge using IT technology. Fortunately using the internet no longer needs IT skills so many other professions have shared knowledge using the internet.

Is there a job where "looking stuff up on Google" wouldn't be a useful skill?

Edit: This gives me an excuse for a bit of a rant. I don't like it when someone starts off their article on subject "X" with a statement like, "Google has Y million results when you search for X". OK, so you increased your wordcount, but that's research any one of us could do. Lazy.
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