Thursday, September 22, 2005

NAVIGATION: Human Google

Sometimes I wonder whether if I'm in the right field of work. It's not that I don't enjoy journalism, it's just that when I read an article like this, it seems that my question-answering skills aren't utilized as much as they could be. From this morning's New York Times, I found out that there are human researchers available at Google Answers, essentially on-call research personnel who answer people's random queries.

From The New York Times:
Mr. Sarokin once earned $120 for researching the need for a scientific expedition floating in the pack ice in the Arctic. Another effort brought $25 for turning up data on the number of computer crimes committed in 2004. Google imposes a cap of $200 on the fee, and it is not uncommon for people to offer the maximum if they need the answer quickly and want to grab the attention of the researchers.
These folks get paid. I offer my services for free, particularly for navigation questions.

To this day, I will get random cell phone calls from college friends or former colleagues at odd hours trying to tap my navigation skills. One friend who was driving to Montreal will often remind me of how I gave him directions (in roughly estimated kilometers) to downtown Toronto from the 401 when he decided to take a detour on a whim. Or back in high school while on a month-long Latin class trip to Italy, fielding requests from classmates during our free time at night to guide them away from our horrible hotel near Porta Maggiore to the Spanish Steps via Rome's subway so we could go drink. No payment for my services. Not even a Heineken.

So next time you ask me a random question, consider buying me a drink. I could be agitated at that very moment and just refer you to Google.

Be forewarned: My knowledge of the Moscow Metro (above) isn't as extensive, so don't try to throw a random question at me about the Zamoskvoretskaya Line from left field.


At 1:24 AM, Blogger satmandu said...

So what's the best place you can suggest to buy you a drink?

At 11:02 AM, Blogger Michael said...

Ha! Remember there is a difference, and I should have made that more clear, between asking random questions, and being my guest in D.C. My navigation services are for free when you are my guest in D.C. But if you find yourself here and find yourself lost over by the Jefferson Memorial trying to find the FDR Memorial, then I may refer you to Google.


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