For a short period in my professional life I programmed computers before Internet access and search engines. Trying to explain what this was like to my younger peers who have always been able to “Google” any programming problem and come up with an immediate answer is impossible, even to comprehend how I did it is very hard for myself. I relied on the senior programmers I was working with, a large code base to search for example code, a few books that littered my desk, and newsgroups and email lists. Imagine that you have to solve every problem yourself without being able to type a few key phrases into Google and copy and paste example code from a helpful blog directly into your code base. To our advantage at that time we were working at a much lower level in the code, with less layers of abstractions (except for a handful of Windows controls).
Google is a powerful tool that makes my job much easier, in fact after Visual Studio it is my number two tool in accomplishing my job. Without it Chinese programmers will have a hard time competing with the West – it increases programmers productivity that much. Unless of course they create a replacement, a search engine that allows them to solve computer problems, find code snippets and produce better code faster. Here in lies the problem – if Google pulls out of China, then the Chinese will build themselves a replacement. Note: In case you don’t know it
“Us “computer types” build tools to help ourselves way before we build things like facebook.”
If the Chinese do build themselves a better search engine, yes that is possible; then I might be left handicapped against my global competitors. Which reminds me of a little factoid I know: Almost all the world’s computer programmers speak English – because all the computer textbooks are in English -- including the majority of the programmers in India. Think of English as a college prerequisite to Computer programming 101. It would make my job a lot tougher if I had to read Chinese in order to solve my programming problems.