Google Has Delivered For Me Over and Over --

I was considering a move away from Google, as so many on have done and/or advocated. After all, having them spy on my emails feels creepy at best. On the other hand, maybe their AI is more expert than my own search abilities. I will provide two examples.

Bob Dylan
Of course Google has known about my interest in Bob Dylan’s music since soon after Google was first created in 1997. It’s no secret. Nearly anyone who knows me, knows about my interest in Dylan. So now on my Android phone, I click on the Google icon and it shows me things it thinks I might be interested in. Routinely it gives me articles about Dylan from the Internet. I never have to search for such articles, Google just gives them to be automatically. This is not because I set up some automatic, recurring Google search. I did not. It just knows about my interests and sends me these links. Easy.

The best example of this follows. One day, Google pointed me to a podcast. This was unusual because I don’t listen to a lot of podcasts. But Google decided I would like this one. It was an interview with an English professor who started writing and lecturing about Dylan decades ago. In 1998 a friend of mine at Stanford organized a conference on Bob Dylan. When asked, I advised him to ask this professor to be the keynote speaker, rather than a very well known writer on popular music from Berkeley. He decided to go with my recommendation and the conference was a huge success. It provided credibility for Dylan in academia in a much more visible way than ever before. In fact, I believe the choice of Dylan winning the Nobel Prize in 2016 can be traced right back to this Stanford Conference.

In December 2016, the very first podcaster (originally helped by Dave Winer to get his start) published an interview of this English professor on his well-known podcast. Did I hear the podcast at the time? Nope, I did not. Finally in mid 2019, Google pointed me to it. I had never heard it and had never even heard it existed! It was better than anything else I had ever read or heard about Dylan, even better than the keynote address the same professor had given at Stanford in 1998, which I had attended and recorded. I considered this to be a very significant benefit to me.

Ham Radio
Later this year, when my wife and I travel to Thailand for our annual visit there, I will be going on the air from Thailand for the first time. I have already started planning my equipment, including the antennas I want to use. One is called a ladder line doublet, which is a very long wire fed by two feeder lines separated by four inches or so by plastic separators. I have had one of these antennas before.

An RF engineer friend of mine back in California is the expert I call with ham radio questions. I sent him some antenna questions by email and told him I would call him for the answers when we return back to the US from our current visit to Thailand. About 42 hours later, Google pointed me to a very detailed ham radio construction article written in Feb 2019 about “the classic multi-band ladder line-fed doublet.” It was on a ham blog I had never seen or read before and it answered some of my questions already. I might have done a Google search about doublets, but that is not one of the articles I turned up in my search.

Google keeps delivering great links to me. I have to base my actions upon what I have experienced myself directly. I can’t help it, if I’m lucky. I will not be deleting my access to the Google AI any time soon.