Dear Mrs. Caffrey – Happy birthday, Google

At the turn of the millennium, I had a lesson at something called school. I was in year eight, which is the eighth grade but worded without the colloquial charm Brits are usually known for in the States. It was a science lesson and for some reason we were in one of three computer rooms. We were all connected to something called THE INTERNET.

Generally the lessons in the computer rooms were an excuse for a doss. That’s a charming British colloquialism, not the British slang known as “toss” because that would be disturbing but not surprising for for first year high schoolers, it just meant screwing around on the internet.

We would open our Hotmails and say “Ewwww” at the FWD:FWD::FWD:FWD:FWD:FWD::FWD:FWD’s. If the internet was off we’d have to make do with asking Clippy the useless bloody paper clip humorous questions we knew it couldn’t answer. “Do you smell like turds?” “Are you trying to write a letter?”

Anyway, this was a science lesson (sorry, class), and the teacher was Mrs Caffrey. She was ginger and generally pretty great. I can’t remember what we were supposed to be researching but it was something science-y, I think.

She instructed us to all open Yahoo to do a search.

Being the geek in training I was, I’d heard of this thing called Google. I didn’t know why it was better than Yahoo but it just felt better. It was easier to use and sometimes it had these weird doodles. It was especially cool that the more results were found, the more o’s you’d find in your oogle. No doubt a search for “sex” would be an “oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooogle.”

Okay, so it wasn’t exactly in its infancy – it had been around a couple of years – but was nowhere near the mainstream over here in Britainland.

Mrs. Caffrey told me it was rubbish. No, use Yahoo. What are you thinking you crazy young bespectacled upstart nerd? No one’s heard of Google. It’s crap. It doesn’t even have ten thousand links on the home page. She made us all use Yahoo and I got yelled at for trying to use Google – which is the worst teenage rebellion, ever.

I remember the next year, going to “Google” was standard. I don’t think Yahoo is listed as a verb in the dictionary but, in true journalistic style, I haven’t checked. Mrs. Caffrey, if you’re reading this, which you’re almost certainly not, please comment below.

Anyway. It’s Google’s 12th birthday today and it has grown up far more than I have. Google’s not posting self indulgent semi-autobiographical rants like I am. (Though Facebook is via “The Social Network”).

I can’t believe how far it has grown and how much power it wields. From obscure search engine to help me find out about particles and junk, in year 8, sorry, eighth grade, to mapping the entire planet.

Happy 12th birthday, Google. I wasn’t as cool as you when I was 12.