Have you been Goo Goo Googling? by Bob Karolevitz In case you didn�t know, I come from the age of Barney Google.
He was the cigar-smoking comic character in the era of Mutt and Jeff and the Katzenjammer Kids when funny papers were really funny.
Barney and his infamous horse (I forgot its name) was created by Billy DeBeck in 1919 right after World War I. He � Barney � also had a smaller equine type called Pony Boy who also wore a blanket. (I always suspected that DeBeck covered up his steeds so he wouldn�t have to draw so much.
Later he introduced a hillbilly character named Snuffy Smif who had a nose as big as Barney�s. But I digress!
I hadn�t thought of Barney for years, but now I have � for another reason.
It seems that Google means something else these days. It is a search engine which, they say, has already replaced my encyclopedia and all the books in my library which took me decades to accumulate.
As I understand it, if you Google something, all the Web pages in the world are scanned, and in a split second you have the information you�ve been looking for.
This could be anything: a minor leaguer�s batting average, a gourmet recipe, the answer to a tough exam question or even the measurements of a prospective date. In many ways it brings to fruition George Orwell�s Big Brother concept quicker than John Ashcroft�s database.
(Incidentally, if you Google Orwell, you�d find out that his real name was Eric Arthur Blair, that he was born at Motihari, Bengal, in 1903 and that he raised chickens and vegetables before he died in London on Jan. 21, 1950 � but who needs that much information?)
Needless to say, I can�t Google anything because I don�t have a computer. However, there are now millions of users out there who surf the Internet, and this is right up their alley.
It makes dinosaurs like me even more obsolete. Before long we won�t dare write anything for fear of being Googled. And if there is anything that I don�t want to happen to me is being Googled when I least expect it.
I suppose we should accept it as one more thing on the whizzing path of progress, like cell phones and nuclear weapons of mass destruction. We can�t stop Googling any more than we can turn back the calendar.
Googling has even been an accepted word in the English language, although it�s not in the aged dictionary on which I have long depended. Googol is, though, and it � not Barney � is what the dot.com wizards used to create their label.
(If you Googled googol, you�d probably find out that it was coined by Edward Kasner, an American mathematician, and that it means the number one followed by 100 zeros � but, again, who needs information like that?)
By the way, Billy DeBeck is also responsible for the descriptive word �bodacious� (which isn�t in my dictionary either). And I never Googled that; I got it from an old clipping.
That, of course, should convince you that I am much closer to the funny paper character than I am to the new meaning of the word. As a matter of fact, I even remember the words of the popular song which we sang a long, long time ago:
With the goo-goo-googley eyes;
Barney Google, with a wife three times his size.
She sued Barney for divorce;
Now he�s living with his horse.
Barney Google, with the goo-goo-googley eyes.�
� 2002 Robert F. Karolevitz