Sometimes it is useful to remind ourselves what Google and, to a lesser degree, other search engines have done for society as a whole.
The amount of information that immediately available to us is staggering compared to 20 or 40 years ago. This isn’t double. No, its not 10x. Frankly, I don’t know an exact number. I suspect it is somewhere between 100,000x and trillions or more. Hard to say exactly. Either way you look at it, it is a REALLY BIG NUMBER even if you bought every encyclopedia in existence at the time and had it near you.
Google gets a lot of (deserved) credit because before they came along the search results were really bad and ridiculously easy to manipulate.
Google had 1 concept that they executed very well that changed the world forever. The internet is a popularity contest to Google. The more people (websites) that like you (link to you) the more other people (Google) like you (send you organic traffic).
Essentially, they were the 1st to really take a good, deep look at the linking landscape of the internet as a whole. This is still fundamental to their algorithm today. They do some parts a little differently, but the core is close to the same as nearly 20 years ago.
Is Google worth their $650 Billion market capitalization to society? Sounds about right to me!
Thanks be to our Search Engine Overlords!