I had my first cup of coffee early this morning with my wife. We tried to remember the first time we used or even heard of Google. Do you remember when you first started using Google? Or your experiences trying to search the web before Google? We couldn’t remember how long ago that might have been. It seems that we’ve been using Google forever. The conversation led, ironically but not surprisingly, to a quick Google search for “History of Google.” We discovered that Google only went public ten years ago and so was only becoming widely available the few years prior to that.
How is that possible? We’ve only been using Google for about a decade? I find this both shocking and unsurprising at the same time. In a ten-year span, many of us have completely adapted to being able to get answers within a few keystrokes. The way we access and process information has fundamentally changed. Our collective behavior has altered, within a very short timeframe. As a business owner, especially one who talks all day long about innovation and the need to approach history and archives completely differently, I draw great inspiration and comfort in this reality. While we have grown to expect that we can access and process information through a Google search, what is missing is the fact that so much of our history is not only non-digital but also not tagged in such a way that a few keystrokes would bring up anything from our treasured archives. That world, more often than not, is still locked away. We have adapted to the Google search. But the information Google has available to be accessed is missing some of the most important, relevant, historical materials.
Someone once asked me if we were trying to make HistoryIT the “Google of history.” I laughed it off at the time, but thinking this morning about how rapidly one company’s approach to information access has shifted our collective behavior, I’m not laughing. Hell yeah, we want to be the Google of history.
The great challenge now is working with those clients that are forward thinking in this industry. Investing in making historical information much more available and comprehensive requires thinking about the future of information. So, we keep hustling.
And it was indeed a hustle day. I met with the executive team in the Chicago office first thing for a strategy session about our new national sales plan. We are gearing up for an intense national push to work with colleges and universities that want to adopt this innovative methodology for their digital archives. This requires careful planning. As we sifted through spreadsheets and presentation decks, we debated new web content, targeted mail and email campaigns, and whether to place equal emphasis on political papers and institutional records.
We raced out to a meeting in downtown Chicago around noon. We’re on the move so much that we often forget to pause and take in our surroundings. Judith, Sarah, and I arrived a few minutes early to the meeting and so had the opportunity to briefly reflect on just how beautiful a city Chicago is. The group we met with has a stunning view from Michigan Avenue (check it out). How lucky are we to be changing history and to do so with such a stunning view?