We sort of take the internet for granted now, don’t we? I personally am of the generation that lived in a world without the world wide web. Where mobile phones were only owned by the rich and not the masses. I mean computer technology was starting to become more widely used, but if we wanted more information at school we used Encarta ( remember that?)
Of course the search engine Google is more than 20 years old. Just think about that for a brief second, it means that 18 years olds have never lived in a world where they couldn’t just “Google it”. The history of the search engine itself is relatively interesting.
Initially named Backrub it took its eventual name from a misspelling of the word for a large number. Then there is its varied partnerships, not to mention the business deals the company itself has done. But we are going to focus on the Image search.
Way back in 2000 Google started to look at their most common search queries and there was one that was far more prominent than all the rest. The result, however, didn’t require a block of text, or a full web page. In fact, it could be answered with a simple picture. Unfortunately at the time, there wasn’t anything like that in existence. But “what was the image?” I hear you cry. Actually, I don’t but I’m going to tell you anyway.
The image that shaped Google
The search that changed the game was Jennifer Lopez. For those of you of a certain age, J’lo is a household name. To be fair she still makes music today, although her songs are nowhere near as frequent as they were in her pomp. The Latino pop queen was wildly popular in the late nineties. You could hardly turn on the radio (it’s what we used to listen to before Spotify) without hearing her voice.
She was also considered somewhat of a sex symbol. Lad-culture was king during that decade with magazines like Nuts, Maxim and FHM all selling well and giving men an opportunity to objectify women. It was during this social low point that Jennifer Lopez and her famously shapely derriere became an internet sensation.
That green dress
It was the year 2000 and the night of the 42nd Grammy’s when J’lo stepped onto the red carpet wearing what has become one of the most famous gowns of all time. The exotic green Versace number will go down in history with the likes of Marilyn Munroes white dress and that time that Lady Gaga wore meat. The only difference is that this was the dress that prompted a revolution.
Due to the high demand to see the garment, or more accurately Miss Lopez adorned in said garment. Google’s hand was twisted into designing a method where solely images could be searched. An algorithm was created and within a year more than 250 million images had been catalogued. The feature has gone from strength to strength and is part of the reason that the search engine has outlasted and bested its (at one time) many competitors. (sorry Yahoo)
To this day the feature is used by the global population, for nefarious and rude reasons through to helping Eric get the perfect image for his chemistry homework. We take it for granted these days, but it’s remarkable to consider that the whole feature came to fruition simply because a singer with a nice bottom donned a revealing frock. It just goes to show that not all inventions are born out of mankind striving for betterment. And it highlights how the entertainment industry drives so much of our lives.