I’m a huge fan of Phil Bradley, and a recent very eloquently written post of his added to the canon of information professionals who have compared Google unfavourably with What We Do. However, I’d really be very happy not to read any more such comparisons hereafter. Here’s five reasons off the top of my head
- It’s not a fight we will ever win. Ever. Unwinnable fight = this.
- However valid our arguments are for libraries or librarians being ‘better’ than Google, we are not powerful or loud enough for them to stick. It’d be like a minor royal saying he’d be better on the throne than the Queen – that may well be, but no one is listening and in any case, it’s the frigging Queen. She is literally bolted down onto the throne.
- It’s really hard to become popular by slagging something else off. You have to be really likeable to make this approach work; it reminds people too much of politicians who only ever talk about how bad the opposition party is. From a marketing point of view, librarians saying Google is bad is a disaster, because everyone loves Google – it’d be like goldfish trying to make a comeback as a popular pet with a ‘Kittens are bastards’ campaign.
- It’s hypocritical. Lots of librarians love Google. I love it – I use it every single day almost a bajillion times. I use it for work, in my library. I know some people don't love it and use Bing etc, but really there isn't a web user in the world who doesn't get some kind of good use out of search engines.
- See number 1, again. .
All we can do is help people to use it better, and emphasise that we provide access to information which Google cannot find. To step up to Google and try and compete for the same market is a waste of energy.