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The Googlization of Everything

The Googlization of Everything: (And Why We Should Worry)

Siva Vaidhyanathan
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Pages: 280
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pn9z8
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  • Book Info
    The Googlization of Everything
    Book Description:

    In the beginning, the World Wide Web was exciting and open to the point of anarchy, a vast and intimidating repository of unindexed confusion. Into this creative chaos came Google with its dazzling mission—“To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible”—and its much-quoted motto, “Don’t be evil.” In this provocative book, Siva Vaidhyanathan examines the ways we have used and embraced Google—and the growing resistance to its expansion across the globe. He exposes the dark side of our Google fantasies, raising red flags about issues of intellectual property and the much-touted Google Book Search. He assesses Google’s global impact, particularly in China, and explains the insidious effect of Googlization on the way we think. Finally, Vaidhyanathan proposes the construction of an Internet ecosystem designed to benefit the whole world and keep one brilliant and powerful company from falling into the “evil” it pledged to avoid.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94869-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. INTRODUCTION: THE GOSPEL OF GOOGLE
    (pp. 1-12)

    In the beginning, the World Wide Web was an intimidating collection, interlinked yet unindexed. Clutter and confusion reigned. It was impossible to sift the valuable from the trashy, the reliable from the exploitative, and the true from the false. The Web was exciting and democratic—to the point of anarchy. As it expanded and became unimaginably vast, its darker corners grew more remote and more obscure. Some had tried to map its most useful features to guide searchers through the maelstrom. But their services were unwieldy and incomplete, and some early guides even accepted bribes for favoring one source over...

  5. ONE RENDER UNTO CAESAR: HOW GOOGLE CAME TO RULE THE WEB
    (pp. 13-50)

    Google dominates the World Wide Web. There was never an election to determine the Web’s rulers. No state appointed Google its proxy, its proconsul, or its viceroy. Google just stepped into the void when no other authority was willing or able to make the Web stable, usable, and trustworthy. This was a quite necessary step at the time. The question is whether Google’s dominance is the best situation for the future of our information ecosystem.

    In the early days it was easy to assume that the Web, and the Internet of which the Web is a part, was ungoverned and...

  6. TWO GOOGLE’S WAYS AND MEANS: FAITH IN APTITUDE AND TECHNOLOGY
    (pp. 51-81)

    The American comedian Louis C.K. tells a story that illustrates the constant ratcheting up of expectations for newness, “nowness,” speed, and convenience. He was traveling on an airplane in early 2009 , C.K. told the television host Conan O’Brien, when the flight attendant announced that his flight offered a new feature that airlines had been working to install for some years: in-flight access to the Internet. “It’s fast and I’m watching YouTube clips,” C.K. said. “ It’s amazing. I’m on an airplane! Then it breaks down and they apologize that the Internet is not working. The guy next to me...

  7. THREE THE GOOGLIZATION OF US: UNIVERSAL SURVEILLANCE AND INFRASTRUCTURAL IMPERIALISM
    (pp. 82-114)

    In 2006,Timedeclared its Person of the Year to be you, me, and everyone who contributes content to new-media aggregators such as MySpace, Amazon, Facebook, YouTube, eBay, Flickr, blogs, and Google. The flagship publication of one of the most powerful media conglomerates in the world declared that flagship publications and powerful media conglomerates no longer choose where to hoist flags or exercise power. “It’s about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the ways the world changes,” Lev Grossman breathlessly wrote...

  8. FOUR THE GOOGLIZATION OF THE WORLD: PROSPECTS FOR A GLOBAL PUBLIC SPHERE
    (pp. 115-148)

    In early 2009, the leaders of Eu, a small town in the north of France, decided to change its official name. It seems that Google searches for “Eu” generated too many results for Europe in general, largely because the European Union is colloquially known as “EU” and because there is a general European Web domain name “.eu.” Even some results pointing to the chemical element Europium outranked those for the little town. Voters in the town were asked to choose among longer strings of text such as “Eu-en-Normandie” or “la Ville d’Eu.” And municipal leaders considered purchasing ads on Google...

  9. FIVE THE GOOGLIZATION OF KNOWLEDGE: THE FUTURE OF BOOKS
    (pp. 149-173)

    Those of us who take liberalism and Enlightenment values seriously often quote Sir Francis Bacon’s aphorism that “knowledge is power.” But, as the historian Stephen Gaukroger argues, this is not a claim about knowledge: it is a claim about power. “Knowledge plays a hitherto unrecognized role in power,” Gaukroger writes. “The model is not Plato but Machiavelli.”¹ Knowledge, in other words, is an instrument of the powerful. Access to knowledge gives access to that instrument of power, but merely having knowledge or using it does not automatically confer power. The powerful always have the ways and means to use knowledge...

  10. SIX THE GOOGLIZATION OF MEMORY: INFORMATION OVERLOAD, FILTERS, AND THE FRACTURING OF KNOWLEDGE
    (pp. 174-198)

    “I forgot to remember to forget,” Elvis Presley sang in 1955. I know that it was 1955 because I just Googled the title and clicked on the link to the Wikipedia entry for the song. Not long ago I would have had to actually remember that Elvis recorded the song as part of his monumental Sun Records sessions in 1955. Then I would have had to flip through a set of histories of blues and country music that sit on a shelf behind me. It might have taken five minutes to do what I did in five seconds. I don’t...

  11. CONCLUSION: THE HUMAN KNOWLEDGE PROJECT
    (pp. 199-210)

    In his 1941 short story “The Library of Babel,” Jorge Luis Borges describes a universe structured in the form of a library. It is constructed of an infinite number of hexagonal cells. Each cell contains four walls of books arranged at random, with no stable indexing system to guide readers to the valuable or useful ones. Most of the books on the shelves are unreadable. Either they are full of nonsense words and letters, or they are meaningful but in code. But because the library is infinite, by definition it must contain every possible piece of knowledge. Infinite random occurrences...

  12. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 211-218)
  13. NOTES
    (pp. 219-256)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 257-265)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 266-266)