Danny Sullivan writes about his ten years writing on search engines:
Ten years on, I remain as fascinated with search engines as ever. I’ve been fortunate to help chronicle the birth of an entirely new advertising medium. Equally important has been the birth of an entirely new way for people to seek out information.
I knew search engines were important when I decided to write about them. The journalist in me could see they were a good story, especially when you realized that under the hood, they weren’t doing things like crawling as often as people widely believed. But a study by Keen in 2001 especially resonated with me. Search engines (as a whole — we weren’t Google obsessed yet then) were the single most likely way people would seek information.
The study was small, but the findings were still stunning. In only about five years, search engines had ousted things like friends, family, books, magazines, libraries and other perfectly good resources for seeking answers.
Some of this was bad. I’d personally watched people when doing search training spending ages trying to find a phone number, when a call to telephone information would have found much faster. Old but still useful search strategies were abandoned in favor of the magic search box.
Lots of this is good. Search engines remain amazing tools that get us the right answers quickly in many circumstances.