It isn’t just bloggers who rely heavily on the Google search engine, it seems. Ian Firns, the Perth-based Newcastle University contract lecturer who uncovered the fact that 30% of his Malaysian students had plagiarised large slabs of their assignments by copying and pasting from Internet sources, made his discovery by using Google to search for distinctive (and suspiciously well-expressed) phrases used in essays by NESB students whose English language standards were otherwise much lower. Of course, it didn’t do any good, because his employing institution appears to have been more concerned with preserving the full fee-paying foreign student cash cow than maintaining any semblance of academic standards.
(via Pineappletown) Elsewhere, it’s been revealed that the International Atomic Energy Agency used Google to discover that the documents purporting to show that Iraq was trying to obtain uranium from Niger were fake:
“Within two hours they figured out they were forgeries,” one IAEA official told NEWSWEEK. How did they do it? “Google,” said the official. The IAEA ran the name of the Niger foreign minister through the Internet search engine and discovered that he was not in office at the time the document was signed.
It made me think back to the bad old pre-Google days of trying to perform Internet searches using Alta Vista, or one of the even more primitive search engines that preceded it. We tend to take Google for granted nowadays, I think, forgetting what a marvellously powerful, accurate and user-friendly tool it really is. I feel hopelessly handicapped if I’m forced to use a PC without the Google Tool Bar sitting at the top of the screen ready to find any resource I want at a moment’s notice, and seldom any need to construct laborious Boolean search parameters.