What is the most innovative product of our lifetime?

Today I was asked what I believed to be the idea that has most changed our lifetime and why? A challenging question, made more so by the constraints of a 250 word limit, yet when I started to think about the question, it became clear what innovation stood out to me. Here are my thoughts;

There are many fundamental, great ideas that our modern day society has been built upon, such as electricity, but I want to talk about the idea that has most impacted my lifetime and changed the world in which I live. I believe this to be Google’s search engine.

Though the internet has been revolutionary in transforming the way we live and work, it’s the ability to search and navigate its wealth of knowledge that is instrumental in our use of it. Google’s PageRank algorithm measures the importance of web pages and ranks them accordingly, allowing the user to access the information closest to what they want, quickly and easily.

What’s more it’s free. That means any of the 2 billion people with internet access can gather exactly what they need from the vast body of knowledge that is the internet. I know the invention of the internet is paramount but would the sheer scale of people using it be the same if Google’s search ability hadn’t made it as efficient to use? Would uncensored, free information spread as easily if it were more difficult and time consuming to find?

I believe that if access to knowledge is hard people are less likely to find it. Making it easy gives everyone the chance to better themselves in terms of learning, whether it’s education or understanding what’s going on in the world. In Google providing society with the tools to do this they allow the internet to be truly great.


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