The Internet carries several resources and services such as internet relay chat, electronic mail, bulletin boards, newsgroups, file transfer, and many others. One prominent service of the Internet is the World Wide Web (www), a collection of interconnected documents connected by hyperlinks. Since its development by the US Department of Defense as a distributed system, there has been a rapid explosion in its use worldwide.
One needs a web browser or a software application to be able to view information (such as text, images, music and videos) on the web. The most popular browsers are Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer. Others in use are Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Opera, and AOL Explorer.
Within browsers, one needs a search engine, a specialized programme or a web page designed to search for information on the Web.
Search engines have evolved over the years. Earlier search engines such as Wandex, Aliweb, JumpStation, Archie, Gopher, Veronica (Very Easy Rodent-Oriented Net-wide Index to Computerized Archives), and Jughead(Jonzy’sUniversal Gopher Hierarchy Excavation AndDisplay) were in use in the early 1990s. All the earlier search engines were text-based. Later, WebCrawler and Lycos emerged on the market around 1994. Additional search engines such as Magellan, Excite, Infoseek, Alta Vista, Yahoo and several others have emerged over the years.
In 1998, the Google search engine was launched by Stanford students Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Today, it is by far the most popular and most-used search engine worldwide.
In July 2006, Google emerged as a verb, to “google”, to surf or look for information on the web using the Google search engine. It has been added to the Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary.
Today, Google has launched several applications and has been registered as an American public corporation. Among its new products are Google Scholar, Google Docs (now Google Drive)., Google Earth, Google Maps, Google Apps, Google Mail, Google Labs, Google Chrome, Google Play, Google Calendar, Google+, Google Translate, Google Handouts, and most recently Google Now, an intelligent personal assistant.
Google Scholar (GS) indexes the full text of scholarly literature from various sources. Launched in November 2004, GS makes it possible for users to look for electronic or physical copies of articles in libraries and online. Through this service, users are able to download abstracts, peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, and the full text version of articles from publishers and other professional sources. To access Google Scholar, one can click “Scholar” on the Google homepage (www.google.com).
Google Apps is another service from Google for using custom domain names with several Google products. Launched in August 2006, it features several Web applications with similar features such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Docs, and others. Users of Google Apps are able to run their applications on Google infrastructure.
Google Maps, another service launched by Google is a free web mapping service application and technology provided by Google that powers many map-based services. It provides high-resolution satellite images for most urban areas in selected countries using Geographic Information System (GIS) data from external sources.
Google Earth is a closely related product or service. It is a service that maps the earth by superimposing Satellite images and aerial photography to enable users see things like houses, and other features of the earth.The service enables users to enter coordinates and search for addresses. Data from external sources (e.g. NASA) are used by Google to create two and three dimensional images. Versions such as Google Earth Plus and Google Earth Pro have additional features and could be accessed by paying a user fee for the service.
Gmail was created in 2006 to provide a free web-based electronic mail service to users. One factor accounting for its success and rapid use is its huge storage space for users, over 5GB on storage space, compared to other web-based emails. Over the years, Google has added new features to its Gmail. As noted by Wikipedia, the online dictionary, among them are chat, draft auto save, keyboard short cuts.
Google occasionally modifies its logo to depict cartoons that reflect humorous features such as holidays, birthdays of prominent personalities, and major global events such as the Olympics. Such special logos have become known as Google Doodles. When one clicks on a Google Doodle, it leads to a search about the topic.
In addition to its numerous web applications, Google collaborates with other media and technology giants (such as Time Warner, NASA, and Sun Microsystem) to either support their work or to distribute their products.
Recently, Google established its presence in the radio and print business by purchasing the radio advertising company dMarc, an organization that promotes radio advertising. And, it supports philanthropic activities in areas such as public health, climate change, and global poverty.
The writer is Dr. Osei
Darkwa, President Ghana Technology