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Are we too dependent on google?

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16 replies to this topic

#1 iqessar

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 05:15 PM

In the good old days when the internet was non-existent , programmers had the following tools at there peril:

1. Books

2. Teachers

Yes, thats it! just two resources. When searching for example code they either had to copy the code from a colleague or simply read several books until they found the code which they needed. It was a very long and tiring process. When programmers could not find the code which they needed, then they simply had to code themselves (logic). For example, how to make two computers communicate with each other i.e. if you were developing a chat program. This kind of project could take months IF the programmer could not afford the books or the teachers for that matter.

Now with the advent of google, I could search for "Java chat program" and the WHOLE code would come up, I could just add what I need and market the software. Would everybody agree with me that this is actually not programming? and that the programmer is not actually a true programmer because google gives them everything on a plate. Even when I get stuck on code, in fact ALL the time, I just google and the answer comes up. And further if it wasnt for google it would take me months to work out a specific piece of code. Does this really make me or anybody else a true programmer? Ive started iphone development, I find that if I dont use google, and just use books its IMPOSSIBLE to make ANYTHING.
I appreciate that even if you have access to google, you still need to adapt/change code to what you need to do with it – and I can create ANYTHING by doing this. (sometimes I just use code which produces the result which I want, but I don’t bother to study it)
ALL comments are appreciated. You see , what I really want to hear from all you programmers out there is that “ Yes Qessar, we are very dependent on google, and we search for the most basic of things, and you shouldn’t feeling guilty about that because we don’t ! And also if it wasn’t for google, projects which take us 3 months to complete now take us 3 weeks to complete because code which we need is just thrown at us from forums and google”.

Would every body agree with me that apart from being a programmer it SEEMS that these days its more about having EXCELLENT skills on using the correct keywords in google for whatever you are look for (i.e. “convert string to integer C#” etc) and being able to afford good teachers or paper back books (well now you can buy ebooks online).

All comments welcome.
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#2 outsid3r

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 05:37 PM

Before google we were forced to know how the things really worked, but now, like you said, programmers just type what they need and then they adapt the code to their projects. It seems that evolution is turning people more lazy than ever, but i mean really lazy in many activities. Eventually in a near future, programs will make programs...
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#3 opwuaioc

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 06:15 PM

Let's take it a step further: before computers...before electricity...before civilization...we had to hunt and farm without any slaves. It was tiring work, but made us stronger. (Actually, farming weakened us, so let's go before the agricultural revolution and just be hunter gatherers).

I'm not making fun of the sentiment expressed here, but just to let you all be aware of just how easy it is to keep pointing at technology that is in fact making us weaker physically and lazier. It's why we have the edge species-wise.
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οἵη περ φύλλων γενεὴ τοίη δὲ καὶ ἀνδρῶν. - Iliad 6.146

#4 iqessar

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 06:16 PM

thanks for your advise outsid3ers


You are quite right,but if required we should and could learn what is really happening in the code.

I guess life is too short, and we should just stick with the result i.e. if the software is working according to spec who cares what the code actually does. nobody will turn round and say "explain how you did that". As long as the job is done.

Let's take it a step further: before computers...before electricity...before civilization...we had to hunt and farm without any slaves. It was tiring work, but made us stronger. (Actually, farming weakened us, so let's go before the agricultural revolution and just be hunter gatherers).

I'm not making fun of the sentiment expressed here, but just to let you all be aware of just how easy it is to keep pointing at technology that is in fact making us weaker physically and lazier. It's why we have the edge species-wise.


I absolutely love the way you make your point.

Before google we were forced to know how the things really worked, but now, like you said, programmers just type what they need and then they adapt the code to their projects. It seems that evolution is turning people more lazy than ever, but i mean really lazy in many activities. Eventually in a near future, programs will make programs...


thanks for your advise outsid3ers


You are quite right,but if required we should and could learn what is really happening in the code.

I guess life is too short, and we should just stick with the result i.e. if the software is working according to spec who cares what the code actually does. nobody will turn round and say "explain how you did that". As long as the job is done.

Read more: Are we too dependent on google?

Edited by WingedPanther, 21 July 2010 - 04:31 AM.
Triple post

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#5 dargueta

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 09:58 PM

@iqessar: Don't double-post. And why are you quoting yourself?
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#6 Alexander

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 11:35 PM

@iqessar: Don't double-post. And why are you quoting yourself?


(He probably did it in error, it was posted but a minute prior the last.)

I believe that search engines that we depend on, allow humans to "cloud" their knowledge. Humans (much like any animal) are curious, and the fact we can transmit out knowledge into a personal environment such as at home, provides food to the curiousity.

I'm tired, I'm afraid I can't add much more than that.
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All new problems require investigation, and so if errors are problems, try to learn as much as you can and report back.


#7 dargueta

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 11:39 PM

I agree. Collectively we know a ton, and instead of going out and figuring it out for ourselves--which could take a very long time--we can spend half an hour, if that, reading up on the internet. It's not necessarily laziness, just boosting efficiency by utilizing available resources: other people.
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#8 outsid3r

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 02:48 AM

I agree. Collectively we know a ton, and instead of going out and figuring it out for ourselves--which could take a very long time--we can spend half an hour, if that, reading up on the internet. It's not necessarily laziness, just boosting efficiency by utilizing available resources: other people.


That is really what matters today, productivity and efficiency, that is what matters. The world is exactly the same since centuries ago, the only thing that is constantly keeping changing is the efficiency of the methods. We get a job and nobody gives a **** about us, about we really want to do and what we like to do, they only care about our productivity and efficiency. In the end we all die and nothing really matters at all, so the big question is, why live? instead of, why google? google it's just a reflection of evolution, nothing more, we are not dependent on google, but on the system.
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#9 WingedPanther73

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 04:34 AM

One of the things I regularly deal with is looking for odd class methods in Delphi. What are the exact parameters on a TStringList.Add? Which function is it of the three I'm looking for? Sure, I can try to look it up in help or a book, but google is FASTER. For a minor technical point, where I just need to know the correct parameters, google makes my life easier. Books work, but they're much slower. I'd take a PDF file over a book for simple search efficiency.

Do we still need to understand how things work? Of course! However, I'll settle for a quick search on a non-conceptual point.
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#10 progcomputeach

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 03:31 AM

You have to approach programming in the right way. Its all very well cutting and pasting the code as long as you understand what it does. If you dont know what the code does(the code which you are cutting and pasting) then how do you know if it works? It is far better to read code samples and understand what they do.Importantly, read subject areas and understand what they do.

Lets imagine you want to encrypt a file in .NET and you didnt know what encryption did. Would you just copy the code from a site?

Nobody knows the entire .NET Framework so you would use the MSDN and search for encryption discussions and code samples, understand what it does and then write it. Thats why you are a programmer...

When you do this then a senior programmer could ask you and you could happily explain. If you approach programming this way then this will help you in your task which might be a bit more advanced...
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#11 manux

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 12:33 PM

I think another problem here is that, as technology is developed, tasks (such as making, or copying, simple code) get done faster, and often, "old" people and gurus start looking negatively at the new generation that doesn't struggle to do it the old way because it takes more time.
The "new generation", always, generally has to deal with this problem in a lot of fields; and today the speed at which technology grows makes it even harder.

So I think we must look at the fact of using the internet to go faster not as a weakness of our minds and memory, but as a way to give more importance to greater things.

Why code something in assembly when you can code it in C? More generally, why struggle to do something that has already been done when we can work to enhance technology?
If I spend 35 hours a week programming things that people already made, like frameworks, libraries, algorithms, etc. , and the remaining 5 hours thinking at new ways to enhance my life and those of other programmers, I won't have enough time to really think things thoroughly.
If I spend 20 hours a week programming those, and the other 20 hours the remains are free for me to work on a research idea, that will allow us to evolve faster in a technological way.

Look back. The day men needed not to worry about eating every day, he invented new stuff.
It's the same today, only, it's going faster, and it's enormous.


Regarding the original question, I think we are dependent on Google and various search engines, but good old man's never gonna let you down :D
I think it's a good thing that Google exists and that we should encourage its growth, or to a better extent, the growth of intelligent search engine (because Google is magnificent compared to Bing, but it can do waaaay better, just look at the growing community of machine learning and natural language processing)
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#12 iqessar

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 02:12 PM

I think another problem here is that, as technology is developed, tasks (such as making, or copying, simple code) get done faster, and often, "old" people and gurus start looking negatively at the new generation that doesn't struggle to do it the old way because it takes more time.
The "new generation", always, generally has to deal with this problem in a lot of fields; and today the speed at which technology grows makes it even harder.

So I think we must look at the fact of using the internet to go faster not as a weakness of our minds and memory, but as a way to give more importance to greater things.

Why code something in assembly when you can code it in C? More generally, why struggle to do something that has already been done when we can work to enhance technology?
If I spend 35 hours a week programming things that people already made, like frameworks, libraries, algorithms, etc. , and the remaining 5 hours thinking at new ways to enhance my life and those of other programmers, I won't have enough time to really think things thoroughly.
If I spend 20 hours a week programming those, and the other 20 hours the remains are free for me to work on a research idea, that will allow us to evolve faster in a technological way.

Look back. The day men needed not to worry about eating every day, he invented new stuff.
It's the same today, only, it's going faster, and it's enormous.


Regarding the original question, I think we are dependent on Google and various search engines, but good old man's never gonna let you down :D
I think it's a good thing that Google exists and that we should encourage its growth, or to a better extent, the growth of intelligent search engine (because Google is magnificent compared to Bing, but it can do waaaay better, just look at the growing community of machine learning and natural language processing)


I must say thats a very interesting reply. Heres another gripe I have. Like I have mentioned in my original post I started iphone programming, I wanted to use Multiple XIBs in my app. Now I dont have a clue how to do this, so I googled and found this tutorial:

Multiple XIB how-to - iPhone Dev SDK Forum

ok the point I am making is that if it wasnt for that tutorial, I would nt know how to do it, and further when I following the video I have a rough idea what the code does, but not 100%. My questions are, by me refering to that video, does it mean that I lack knowledge of the frameworks? (but on the other hand, I dont think Apple SDK DOCS would cover it in this detail) am I supposed to know 100% what is going on in the code. There also a code like the following:

[windows addsubview:navcontroller.new]

Now I know that this code adds a nav contoller to a view in the window, but if it wasnt for someone actually giving me this code, how would I know how to do it???? Again if I went through and studied the apple docs, it wouldnt give me this line of code.
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