After using the Internet nearly every day for several years--for school and fun--I have developed several distinct online preferences. The worst thing about the Internet for people who do not have a high-speed connection is that no phone-based modem is fast enough to keep users from wasting up to 30 percent of their online time while the screen is changing, plus 5 percent more time clearing the pop-up advertising screens. That cuts into the time for gaming, e-mailing, and researching. For all of these reasons I want to discuss the design--and benefits--of the Google Internet search engine.
Google is a culture phenomenon, though it first appeared in 1998. To "Google" somebody or something is to perform an online search for a name or term by clicking the computer to http://www.google.com and entering the words in the Google search field (Levenson 15). In seconds, or sometimes a fraction of a second, the computer screen returns a list of "hits," or results, containing the name or term. The user can then click on the hit links to Internet sites that have information on the search term.
Google's user-friendly search protocol empowers the user, even the first-timer. It has been pointed out that many novices on the Internet employ free-text or "relevancy searching," whereby users "simply enter their terms and click the Search button" (Courtois and Berry 40). Google does have an advanced-search utility that users may employ to refine their search, but they are not obliged to become familiar with so-called "Boolean operators" (e.g., and, or, not) to construct complicated information requests. The simplicity of use, then, is a major attraction of Google's underlying architecture.
The graphics of Google are attractive, chiefly because the site is clean and uncluttered. On a white background the word Google, with letters of bright blue, red, yellow, and green, is across the top of the screen, each letter backed by a light gray shadow. The...