A few years ago if you wanted to solve a problem as a developer you just sat down and tried to come up with a solution. You remembered what you had learnt, looked at the code you had done before, read the manual for your programming environment or tried to find a similar problem in a book. If all this does not work, you would ask your colleague. And if it would be a really difficult problem or important change, you would ask your colleagues anyway.
Today, the chance is good that your colleagues are no longer needed. Someone else on the internet has probably already solved your problem. For nearly every possible problem there is a blog entry or a snippet somewhere with the solution. The developers of the Google generation – those born after 1993 – act differently. If there is a bug, if they get stuck, if they have a problem, they google it (or ‘bing’ it). There is nothing wrong with that. Often it will offer a good answer of quick solution. The drawback is not that you will find code which is wrong, or that you will read dangerous half-truths, which may happen in rare cases. The drawback is that you don’t try it yourself, and – most of all – you don’t communicate with your colleagues anymore. You are no longer asking your co-workers for help or advice. You share your problems and ideas with Google – instead of sharing them with your colleagues.
Yet it is impossible to establish a good relationship with your colleagues without talking to them. If you don’t share your problems and ideas with your co-workers, they will have the impression of being ignored. Mutual respect is difficult to achieve if people have the impression that they are ignored. The digital age is dangerous by threatening our ability to communicate. This is perhaps the biggest challenge of the Google Generation. We know how to formulate our questions and sentences so that Google understands them, but we no longer care about talking to our co-workers and colleagues. Someone said this ability to communicate is perhaps the most important thing if you want to have a successful career:
the single most important thing you must do to improve your programming career is improve your ability to communicate