When my daughter was young and she wanted something that I told her we could not afford, she would simply reply, “just go to the ATM, Mom”. To my young daughter, born in the early 1980s, money was something that came out of the machine with the press of a few numbers, not something you worked hard for. Today, the currency of information is taken from Google by only typing a few sentences. No need to add a question mark; Google knows you are here to query its never-ending supply of information, much like the idea of an endless ATM machine that never runs out of money.
Working in a scientific library at the US Patent and Trademark office, I train new patent examiners on how to research the inventions they are examining for patentability. Inventions are patentable until proven unpatentable (much like you are innocent until proven guilty in the legal sense). Therefore, it is up to the patent examiner to determine if the invention they are reviewing has already been invented or is an obvious variation of something invented. This is the reason patent examiners need to know how to research patent and other scientific databases that are built on Boolean logic.
However, the Millennials that are becoming professionals generally do not like the strategizing that must go in to developing Boolean searches, because they have grown up on Google. And Google knowing this, has developed its own patent database, Google Patents. Google Patents allows researchers to type in a query and find relevant documents. It also has a lot of bells and whistles that can be very helpful in researching. However, it is not necessarily as thorough as using a system with Boolean logic and should not be relied upon as the ultimate authority when researching.
Scott Galloway, in The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, compares Google to a modern-day god stating,
Prayers to Google, however, are answered. It offers to everyone, despite backgrounds or educational level if you have a smartphone (88 percent of consumers) or an Internet connection (40 percent), you can have any question answered. If you want to witness a small part of the staggering diversity of questions asked of Google in real-time go to google.com/about and Scroll down to “What the world searching for now” (Galloway 2017, 170).
Galloway believes users not just use Google to answers prayers or questions as they would ask a deity, but users also trusts Google as a God since it knows our deepest thoughts and intentions (Galloway 2017, 173). I would agree that many Millennials and those younger who have grown up using this tool trust Google as the best tool for the job even if they do not know how it works in the background. And this is a problem that is not limited to information on the job, but carries over to all aspects of life.
The characteristic of trusting Google as a definitive source for all information can translate to Millennials and those younger in searching for information about God. If Millennials and those younger are not taught how to discern the types of information found on Google, this can lead to confusion in what they believe about God. Nancy Falciani-White further describes this problem in her essay, Running with Perseverance: The Theological Library’s Challenge of Keeping Pace with Changing Students, stating:
This means that students are confronted by a tremendous amount of information in which they can easily become lost, as they link from a website to an article to another website to a blog. Unless they are taught how to evaluate the materials they find, they are no better off than they would be just searching Google. To a student who has had no formal evaluative training, there is no obvious distinction between a JSTOR article that they found through Google Scholar and a general website, and many would consider a popular blog to be a credible source of information. (Falciani-White 2008)
Perhaps Galloway is a bit dark and pessimistic in his description of the four powerful companies, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. At my job and at church I am trying to incorporate some of the tools provided by these companies. I have found that these tools can be a tremendous advantage in helping Millennials and those younger study and learn about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is up to those who are knowledgeable to help the generations coming behind how to use what may be meant for evil to do good.
Falciani-White, Nancy K. “Running with Perseverance: The Theological Library’s Challenge of Keeping Pace with Changing Students.” Theological Librarianship, Vol. 1, No. 2, 2008: 16-27.
Galloway, Scott. The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. New York: Penguin Random House LLC, 2017.