Charlie Brooker, a columnist for The Guardian, isn’t exactly charmed by Google Instant. And I think he has a point.
I clipped only three paragraphs here, but it’s best to read the whole thing to get his point completely. He has a clear message about the decrease of attention span and productivity that the majority of computer users suffer from these days.
I’m starting to feel like an unwitting test subject in a global experiment conducted by Google, in which it attempts to discover how much raw information it can inject directly into my hippocampus before I crumple to the floor and start fitting uncontrollably.
That afternoon, it unveiled a new feature called Google Instant. It delivers search results before you’ve finished typing them. So now, if I visit Google and start typing my own name, it shows me links to Craigslist the moment I hit “C”. When I add the “H”, up pops the homepage for Chase online banking. By the time I’ve spelt out “Charlie”, I’m presented with a synopsis and review score for “Charlie St Cloud”, a film starring Zac Efron. Add a “Br” and Charlie Brown gazes back at me.
As the name suggests, this all happens instantly. It’s the internet on fast-forward, and it’s aggressive – like trying to order from a waiter who keeps finishing your sentences while ramming spoonfuls of what he thinks you want directly into your mouth, so you can’t even enjoy your blancmange without chewing a gobful of black pudding first.