With search engines, I often tell people to “ask yourself before you consult search engines or external resources…”
While search engines allow us to research things and find inspiration; It is also causes us to no longer ask ourselves what we think and feel about a subject when we have the lazy way of just searching answers online. Too often we no longer think for ourselves but instead ask google. There are two negative potentials here.
Number one is the fact that google can control what you see and what you don’t see. This is centralized control of information. If you ask a search engine a question about genetically modified foods or global warming, your opinion can be based on what the computer shows you whether they are ads, page rank or mere omission.
The second is it often robs people the preciousness of creative critical thinking. You no longer have to think up an answer to your question when you can just search for it via google (or other search engines). But what if new answers would be discovered in the laboratories of our minds if people only thought for themselves? More often than not, search queries yield results from lay people on forums whom often know nothing more than I do or are repeating fictitious misconceptions. This also results in the development of echo-chambers whereby we get increasing polarization of view points through positive feedback loops which do not happen in libraries and book stores.
The old-fashioned way of learning things through other people, books, magazines and our own thinking allows us to be exposed to more varied and experiential view points.
Of course this comes from me … a person who built their own tiny-house version of a library … but I digress.