Did any Science Fiction writer ever anticipate Google?

I was reading a column this morning that said that no Science Fiction Writer had ever anticipate anything remotely like Google. The columnists said HAL was as close as anyone ever came and that didn’t count because HAL was a point and Google is distributed.

This shares some of the same problems as HAL (single massive system with an internal database of ‘facts’, as opposed to a distributed search index for the web,) but I’d say that Isaac Asimov’s Multivac might be closer, especially as portrayed in the short story ‘Anniversary.’

It shows three old friends getting together at the house of one, drinking, and when a particular line of conversation opens up a line of questioning that they want to research in depth, the host goes, “Hey, we can ask Multivac - I got a Multivac terminal put in a year ago, to help the kids with their homework.” They ask a few questions by typing them in, and get answers back on ticker-tape - if the answer isn’t censored because the information is considered ‘private’ and they have no legitimate need-to-know.

Heinlein’s *Friday *had the heroine researching on a global information network, looking for information on a wide variety of topics. At one point, she asks the system “who owns you?”, and fails to get a satisfactory answer. Sounds not unlike a decentralized web of information owned and managed by a diverse group of interests.

Not science fiction as such, but Vannevar Bush’s Memex concept was the inspiration for work by J.C.R. Licklider, Douglas Engelbart and Ted Nelson.

E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops (1909) had a lot of elements that Google’s tools provide.

A Logic Named Joe is probably as close as you will get.

“A Logic Named Joe” is the one I was going to mention, too. There were plenty of science fiction authors who saw the proto-Internet as it was emerging in the late 70s or early 80s, and extrapolated it, but Murray Leinster managed to anticipate the Internet itself long in advance.

Yeah, but did anyone in science fiction ever anticipate that most folks would use the Internet to post inane personal details about themselves and look at porn? :smiley:

Yes. The Star Wars Holiday Special.

Yes. The aforementioned “A Logic Named Joe.”

Here’s the description of the logics, from “A Logic Named Joe”

You realize that it was William Gibson who wrote that column? And that he was using a highly specialized definition of Google, which was neither “the internet” nor a “search engine” but something he was defining for this purpose as a unique entity?

Yeah, I know. I’ll go away now.

Darn, someone took my answer. Great story, by the way. Incredibly human, and it really, really describes what people did with the internet as soon as they figured it out. And someone got The Machine Stops as well.

Other options: RAH, Expanded Universe, goes on about the need for a universal librarian, though he thinks it’ll be a profession.

Isn’t the eponymous Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy essentially a binary of Google? Arguable, I suppose, maybe more like wikipedia, very specifically. But isn’t the HHGttG kind of like a giant wiki, and really isn’t Google just the Giant Grandmother of all Wiki’s in essence?

Also the ship’s computer in Star Trek, as far as archival and information technology. There must be a google-like program or subroutine in the Enterprise’s computer.

Asimov’s Foundation features an Encyclopedia Galactica.

In Imperial Earth by Arthur C. Clarke, the lead character, Makenzie, at one point is in his hotel room, using his terminal to obtain information from the “Yellow Pages” - a computer search function. He muses that he can’t remember why it’s called the Yellow Pages, but it’s very handy for getting information quickly.

Sounds pretty google-esque to me.

Hehe. You basically can’t win at this game. Science fiction has been around long enough and published in such volume that it’s nearly impossible to think of something that wasn’t predicted by someone somewhere. For example, it is now altogether impossible to write an original time travel story.

What if you invented a time machine, went back 40 years and published a story about how you invented a time machine to go back in time and publish a an original time travel story?

Here’s something you might enjoy: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/

I recall computer searches in the original Star Trek series. I think they even searched archives outside the ship.

The episode with the Shakespeare company is an example. Kirk suspects the old man is a war criminal. IIRC Kirk goes into some old archives from another base or something.

They even had terminals in their quarters. I recall Evil Spock (with the goatee) using the computer in his quarters to check up on Kirk.

They didn’t actually say networking or internet. But those computer terminals were hooked together somehow.

The problem is that the HHGttG is written by special authors (including one [del]Ford Prefect[/del]Ix), unlike wikis which are usually designed to be edited by anyone. And it definitely does not have access to any other databases other than its own–it’s not like you can read the* Encyclopedia Galactica* on it.

The Enterprise computer is much better, but open to interpretation. I like to believe that the ship’s data is just a cache, and that there is general interconnectivity, as it makes the system of acquiring data much more elegant. I can’t imagine having to explicitly connect and send each individual piece of data back home. Heck, just the captain’s logs alone would take forever.

That said, every time I can think of that searching through other databases is mentioned, they have to explicitly connect to that database. There doesn’t seem to be some sort of Google that will check them all. But maybe that’s only because it’s not worth mentioning with the already integrated databases.

Also, remember that downloading large amounts of data often destroys the original in the Star Trek universe. I assume the intellectual copyright lawyers eventually won.