Still in a pre-Google world

Found this why surfing the web. An excellent illustration on how not to find information.

Complete Tosh, by Neil McIntosh: Still in a pre-Google world
Still in a pre-Google world

Here’s an interesting excerpt from a book by Peter Hyman, former advisor and chief speechwriter to Tony Blair. It’s 2003, and they’re working on Blair’s conference speech, to be delivered the next day. Hyman’s leaving Blair’s suite when Tony says…

“Can you find me a quote? There’s this beautiful saying from the Bible, Proverbs, I think, twenty-something, that says exactly what we want to say in this speech. I want to use it at the end. “It’s something like, ‘If we faint in the day of struggle, we have little strength.'”

I leave the room and go back to my bedroom to look for the obligatory hotel Bible. I open the bedside drawers. No Bible. I look in the cupboard under the television. It’s a mini-bar. Is this the only hotel room in Britain without a Bible? Is this yet another symbol of the decline in values?

Found it. It was in a clothes drawer.

I look for the quote and find Tony is almost spot on. It’s Proverbs 24:10. I return to his room. The security man on the door lets me in with a key. I tell Tony the good news. “If we faint when there’s trouble, then we have little strength.” Tony says: “That’s the right quote, but there are more poetic versions. Have you looked at the King James Bible?”

Where will I get a King James Bible at 10pm on a Monday? I phone the only person I know who will be working at this hour, the No 10 duty clerk, the heroic person on duty through the night. He calls me back within the hour: ‘If we faint in the day of adversity, our strength is small.’ I leave the quote on a piece of paper for Tony.”

Maybe it’s just me being a geek, but to me this reads almost like something from a different age – the second world war, perhaps. Surely the instinct of most professionals, faced with the need to find the King James version of a quote, would be to hit Google with the approximate version? Indeed, search on what Blair gives him – proverbs If we faint in the day of struggle, we have little strength – and you get the exact quote at number one. Search on Proverbs 24:10 and you get the full thou and thy King James version at number four.

I bet they have Google in the West Wing.