Google has been running a publicity campaign called Your Google stories collecting stories submitted by users about how Google has "changed their life" or whatever... My first thought when I saw the series was that the whole idea was at worst pretentious, and at best kind of lame.
Today my parents were over visiting, and my father and I were looking up some directions. Being Canadian, the trip we were evaluating was a measly 4.5 hours. We joked about how you could get across Ireland in less than that time.
As a lark, we typed in "ireland," and started scrolling around. We scanned over to Castletownbere where a colleague of mine just inherited a house. My dad was suitably impressed that they had Streetview there!
Then we decided to zip over to Tralee, where my father grew up. He scanned around, and settled on Lohercannan. He found his old street. We dragged the "little yellow man" onto it, and eventually found his old family home.
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We turned around to see the view of the mountains he looked out on (and climbed!). We walked around the bend and down the lane toward the beach he swam in. He told stories about old farmers that had no children to pass their farms onto.
All through this, my son watched on and got a real tour of his family history. He couldn't wait to hear more about Ireland, and where Grampa grew up. He wants to go swimming in the channel.
So there you have it Google. I'm happy to say that I was wrong - you really do create memorable "search experiences" that change lives.