AltaVista was really pretty useful (it's still around - owned by Yahoo! now), but the first time I used Google, in early 1999, I knew AltaVista was history.
It's been almost 11 years since that day, and my brain's been following the usual middle aged fail. On the other hand, Google keeps getting smarter. So my brain + Google isn't doing as badly as my brain alone.
Take yesterday, for example. I asked Google for help with an esoteric Excel problem, and it told me how to use matrix operations to sum a range of inverted numbers. I didn't even know Excel had matrix operators.
It took minutes to answer that problem, and to acquire a new set of skills. There's no way I could have answered the problem 10 years ago.
Even though Google has its weaknesses (see also), it's only begun to get smart. Imagine what search will be like in 10 years.
Vinge's Rainbow's End classroom is feeling familiar, even as more of my brain is outsourced to the House of Google.
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