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“Imagine if Doctors Relied on Google As Much As Programmers Do”

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This is a common refrain programmers have from time to time, but the truth is that doctors do look things up for their job. Might not be though Google, but they don’t just rely on head knowledge.

There was a time my face got paralyzed and I had to go to a doctor. I found one and the first thing they checked for was if I was having a stroke. Thankfully I wasn’t having one (if I was, would I even be there). After that, they sat me down and asked a bunch of questions which they furiously typed into a computer.

A bit later they said I had Bell’s Palsy and invited me over to look at their laptop which had a program outlining the condition, it’s symptoms, causes and course of treatment. With that, I got the medicine and eyepatch and went about the next few weeks struggling to move half my face which made me realize why banning plastic straw is stupid.

This episode made me realize that looking things up, particularly with Google, is just a tool. It has little effect on your competency as a professional, whether it is programming, medicine or whatever. Is it worth your time to know every single API call and function signature? What use is me memorizing the visually-only class when I can just copy paste it from the a11y project when I need it?

It can get annoying when acclaimed programmers sound like they’re just bumbling fools who crib onto Google to get their job done but that can be a strength, can’t it? Knowing how to save time through premade solutions that you can evaluate is a powerful skill.

Given that, I think it would be better to focus less on people googling shit and more on making sure the stuff they Google is correct to begin with along with people being able to evaluate what they find.

“The Internet contains the sum of all human knowledge at our fingertips, but I would like to hire people who don’t take advantage of this amazing resource” is a hell of a weird-ass hill to die on but you do you buddy.

—@jacobian