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How 20 Years of Google Has Changed Technology and Engineering

  • by: Sunette Van Aarde
  • On: 27, Sep 2018
3 min read

Billions of people use Google every single day. It is the biggest search engine in the world, the first port of call for almost any problem, and is so successful that its name became a verb. Thanks to Google, we have a wealth of information about any topic that we access almost instantly. Through it, we’re more connected than ever, allowing for colleagues, friends, and family to stay in touch and build ever-expanding networks. Nowadays, it is hard to imagine life without Google.

Google is monolithic in the online world, a world ruled by the 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created daily. Every minute, Google delivers results for 3.6 million searches, making Google unparalleled in its ability to sift through massive amounts of data and find the specific answer to your specific question.

Today marks Google’s 20th Birthday, and in the past two decades Google has revolutionised not just the internet, but the way people find and think about information. Beyond that, Google has defined the cutting edge of technology, and the level of skill, precision, and ingenuity required to be an engineer in today’s world.

How Google Has Changed Technology:

1. Google Changed How We Gather and Organise Information

Google obviously revolutionised the way we go about finding information, allowing us to find answers, articles, and guides in mere seconds. But it’s also changed the way we think about that information. We instinctively place values on things, and knowledge is consistently near the top of those valuations. We now view information as so accessible that we must codify it into different categories. The more we use services like Google, the more our brains organise the world in an index-based way.

2. Google Changed How We Collaborate

Google sheets, docs and drives allow for seamless collaboration across teams and projects. With folders, word documents, spreadsheets, PowerPoints and more, all accessible and editable in real-time, teams can work and collaborate on anything, at any time, for hugely increased productivity.

3. Google Changed How the Internet Works

In a way, Google keeps the internet organized. Thanks to its ever-changing algorithm, Google orders how search results rank per any given query and displays them accordingly. As Google refines its system, it should theoretically get better and better at predicting what we want to see. The Google RankBrain project utilises machine learning in a way that almost no other company in the world can compete with, setting the standard for AI technology. RankBrain can link clusters of words and their meanings together to understand what you’re asking for, even if none of the words you use are in your search query!

Lessons Engineers Can Learn from the Google Work Ethos:

1. Keep Things Simple

Ever since its inception on the web, Google has kept things simple: a search bar and two buttons. While Google has since diversified and expanded its product range, Google’s core search engine service remains at its heart an incredibly streamlined experience that absolutely anyone can use. Engineering projects can be incredibly complex, with many diverse teams, parts, and functions. But the end result, the finished product, should always be simple for the user. Google is a great example of an engineering project that is staggeringly complicated, sophisticated, and highly technical, yet when it comes to use, is easy.

2. Quality First, Always

Google maintains strict conventions on how to code if you’re working on their projects. This keeps things standardized, uniform, and understandable to anyone, in any department who might look at the code. This focus on quality can be applied to any technology or engineering design. As more technologies emerge into an already crowded market, the ones that work the best are the ones that will rise above.

3. With Enough Data, You Can Do Anything

Data can be collected and analysed in many different ways, but how you use that data can help make things more efficient. The infrastructure you impose on that data can make your analysis more insightful, allowing for a deeper understanding of the task at hand, and can lead to newer, better practices. On a fundamental level, the more data you have, the more you know.

Technical engineering is a field that demands only the best, so there’s always something new to learn. Read about the skills you'll need to become an engineer

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