Google can only do so much

Google can only tell us what it has already been told.  It does that brilliantly but it cannot do complete justice to many subjects because so much of the information has not been captured.  Sure we know facts that have been published and are digitally stored in archives or that are regularly updated in such vehicles as Wikipedia.  But to really understand a particular subject, nothing can replace personal experience.  Until the day that search engines/aggregators are able to read human memory, I think our common human database of information will contain only a representative sample of all that we’ve lived.

Do a Google on yourself.  You might be surprised at what you see.  You probably forgot you clicked on Like or that you commented on that article you read in an online newspaper, or that you were a speaker listed on the agenda of a long-forgotten corporate event.  Do the collected links tell the whole story of you?  Of course not.  Just as TV and other two-dimensional media cannot fully portray to the viewer the exquisite proportional accuracy of the statue of David, neither can a search engine find and present to the viewer enough information to flesh out a human subject. Too much memory of that person’s deeds and life remain stored in the private realm, in the memories of the people with whom they lived and knew.

I thought of this recently when my sister informed me that Reno Bertoia had passed away.  It’s almost a certainty that the name rings no bell for you.  I knew him for the first 20 years of my life, first as the great guy with the young family who lived directly across the street, then as my hometown’s most famous former professional athlete (this was during a time when pro athletes lived like mere mortals), and finally as a very engaging history teacher during my high school years.   If you were to click on that link I embedded above, and if you were to read all the information contained in all those links, you would not learn that Reno Bertoia gave a baseball bat and ball to two very young boys who lived across the street.  You would also never find it written that those items were from the collection belonging to the Detroit Tiger baseball club, for whom Reno had played.  You would also not read that Reno took them to Tiger Stadium to meet the ’68 World Series champions in the dressing room one hot summer day.

You may read about all this in the future though, since I wrote it down.

About Peter Armaly
I get jazzed by automation, big data, and blockchain tech. Business, technology, and fitness are things I understand. Scotch, wine, food, and fiction are things I appreciate.

4 Responses to Google can only do so much

  1. Jeff Jimenez says:

    Great post. A very, very, nice tribute. I hope someone will be able to post information about myself one day, when I’ve moved on, that provides insight into the type of person I was, like you did for Reno. He was before my time, and played during the golden age of baseball, in my opinion, probably the best period MLB ever had, or ever will.

    • Peter Armaly says:

      Thanks for the comment. Jeff. Yes, that era was certainly a different time for MLB, one that witnessed lot more humility from the players. It seemed to me that the game was why they played, rather than to boost their egos. Writing this post reminded me that Al Kaline (Tiger Hall of Famer and close friend of Reno’s) went almost his entire career before accepting Detroit’s offer to pay him $100K per year. When so many other players were earning 5 and 6 times that much, he always replied that he didn’t think he deserved all that money.

  2. Jeff Gendron says:

    Great post Peter…Anne shared the link with me.
    Your thoughts are very true and are a good reminder of days before the internet…when sharing the experience through our words and actions far outways seeing it go “viral.” As a person who works in catholic education, I am always striving to have my students live out their experience of faith, rather than just going to a Mass or religious ceremony. It’s so easy these days to just “go on line” to find the answer rather then actually living out or recalling the experience of what we are trying to capture. Nice tribute to Reno too!

    • Peter Armaly says:

      Thanks, Jeff. That’s good advice to give to any generation, but particularly the young. To keep things in perspective though, throughout history full participation in any sort of group has failed unless it was done authentically and organically (i.e. from some decision-making place inside the individual). So all you can do is attempt to inspire through modeling and teaching. Openness coupled with strong principles go a long way.

      Glad to see you’re a subscriber now.

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