Imagine there's no Google search. It's easy if you try.
John Lennon wrote his masterpiece hit long before the rise of the global tech giant, but the idea applies to the situation at hand for Australian web users.
What if Google made good on its threat to withdraw its search engine if forced to pay news companies for their content? How would life change? I can only imagine. I'm not the only one.
I was, however, singled out in my newsroom to be a guinea pig for this possible world without the website. When I was tasked this week with giving up the Google for about three days and writing about the experience, I had some doubts.
It's estimated Google has about 95 per cent market share in Australia's searches, and I'm part of that majority using it to trawl the internet each week.
For journalists, Google search is also handy for finding people.
Before I took on the challenge of pre-emptively, unilaterally shutting off Google for three days, it didn't sound much fun to be hobbled so in a busy week. Turns out, it wasn't what I expected. But I later learned my experiment didn't say much about the full potential impact of Google search possibly disappearing from Australia.
An obvious but full disclosure here: I'm an employee of a company that the proposed new media bargaining code is designed to benefit. I also admit to a lapse or two when I forgot not to use Google - testament to the ingrained habit I've formed.
Google is resisting attempts to make it pay news companies, but Microsoft, perhaps predictably, offered on Wednesday to fill the gap it would leave for the Australian public. In my experiment I'd already turned to Bing, with scepticism, having given it a test drive in 2009 and quickly got out.
This time around, a few searches in, things were going OK. I asked it to find web pages about freedom of information laws, and later, an anti-corruption group. Back they came: plenty of results, and more importantly, relevant ones.
Bing, find me information about "media monitors Australia". I compared the top results to Google's: about the same, except Google helpfully retrieved a Whitepages listing that could have been all the difference between finding what I needed, and not.
Where the damage will be felt is in our ability as a nation to show leadership by working with companies.Aaron Quigley
Next day, I gave Ecosia a whirl for a few hours. It was much the same, although I found its layout harder to read. All good though, because it promises to plant trees for every 45 searches a user makes.
Overwhelmingly, though, my life didn't change after giving up Google search. Those days were no harder or more complicated.
I'm a sample size of one, so my short personal experiment only says so much about life without Google search. I asked technology experts what might happen for web users in Australia should the service disappear.
Aaron Quigley, head of school in computer science and engineering at the University of NSW, says on day one there would be little impact. Web users would simply find another search engine and use it. That's true of my experience.
On days 10, 100 or 1000, it would be a different story, Professor Quigley says. The damage of shutting Google out - or the company withdrawing its search engine - would become evident then.
"Where it will be felt is in our ability as a nation to show leadership by working with companies. That we don't solve our problems by forcing them to shut us out, or for us to shut them out. That we work progressively and actually figure out how to make our regulations work effectively," Professor Quigley says.
At the same time, the nation should not allow itself to be bullied by an international organisation, he says.
Another question is employment.
"There are thousands of jobs here in Google. Will Google then divest from Australia? What about other big players, will they see Australia as being less open to innovation and creativity, and that the only way we can solve our problems is by closing the doors? That's not how we work effectively together with companies like this," Professor Quigley says.
The absence of Google search could also affect how well its maps, home products, and Android operating system work in Australia.
"But on the flip side, should the Australians back down? No. But they should think about what they actually want to get out of it, what's the long term goal."
There's another shortcoming in my experiment: my searches this week were simple. Wray Buntine, director of the machine learning group at Monash University, finds Google more useful when looking up more obscure topics, like coding.
Experts point out several other advantages in its search engine. It created products used in everyday life - Gmail, maps, calendar, and others - and integrated them with its search.
My three days without Google search forced me to use other search engines. The debate over the news media bargaining code might do a similar thing nationally, making people think about how they use these services.
Professor Quigley says the fear that Google might leave should make web users think more critically about the information they receive online.
"[It's] actually a skill everyone needs, from children in school, to older people who are using this to make decisions about who they're going to vote for," he says.
In other words, we need a world where everyone thinks more carefully about the information they find on the internet.
- Doug Dingwall is The Canberra Times' public service editor.