The Seattle Times writes:
When search engines can change the lives of pastry chefs, a technology transformation clearly is under way. These online guides were once merely the means to a destination, the robots that could quickly fetch a site from the Web haystack.
Now, they are the destination itself, and crucial to fulfilling a basic human need the quest for information. For many, they have become the first stop in a discovery, the jumping-off point for an increasing number of tasks such as finding a decent wedding cake in Seattle.
“We have invited them into our lives,” said Danny Sullivan, founder of the Search Engine Watch site. “Originally, we turned to them just to locate stuff on the Web. We continue to do that, but they’re going through a metamorphosis into being our trusted guide to everything.”
Three quarters of U.S. Internet users, or about 120 million people, have used engines, searching an average of 38 times a month. As the technology has taken off, its influence has rippled through other industries.
The online Yellow Pages business is growing each year, while sales in the printed directories have flattened. At the same time, search technology has revolutionized advertising to the point where the businesses are questioning the value of print newspaper ads or television commercials.