Googling Before Google: A Brief History of Search

chad wellmon

To search is to google––to use Google’s search engine to find something on the Web. The search for meaning, love, purpose, or God––search as an existential feature of being human––has, in little more than a decade, been reduced to a secondary meaning.

[I delivered various versions of this talk this past fall and spring at Boston University, Ohio State University, and McGill University. It’s just a talk and hasn’t been published. So it’s rough. Comments welcomed and needed. I’m writing a book on the history of search.]

From its now almost apocryphal beginnings at Stanford in 1998, Google was described by its co-founders Larry Page and Sergy Brin as a technology designed to “organize the world’s information.” In Google’s first press release on June, 7 1999, Brin said that a “perfect search engine will process and understand all the information in the world.” In its first decade, Google focused on…

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