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

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University of California Press, Mar 8, 2011 - Social Science - 280 pages
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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.

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Information overload is the least of Google's problems in this intriguing exposť of the popular website. Few readers need to be told that Google runs on advertising revenue rather than goodwill. But ... Read full review

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Q. So what is meant by the "googlization of everything"?
A. I think the author means that Google has become so large, an international corporation, and dominates so thoroughly as a search engine
and as a provider of content that the everyday person has no choice in the matter. It's like a monopoly, one monkey is running the whole show.
Q. Are you convinced now, after reading the book, that there's cause for concern?
A. No, because the author seems to glorify Google as much as he decries Google's monopolization. He lauds their work as much as he deplores their growing control of information. However, to be fair, he does constantly reiterate that Google is out for its own profit, as a corporation. The stockholders rule, not the public, so that's the bottom line. I think, in the end, he proposes, as he did in a court brief he filed when American publishers sued Google over copyrights, that information storage and organization become a public utility, more along the lines of our current libraries, or that libraries handle this function, not Google. He comes up with the name "Human Knowledge Project," and says its analogous to the "Human Genome Project."
Q. So what's your take on the whole situation?
A. The author, like Google itself, has a bias: He works for a university and he does not really acknowledge this conflict of interest. He proposes a project that his university can be involved in to gather and dispense knowledge, in place of Google. But the conflict is there, since the university is paying his salary.
Q. What about his writing style?
A. Dry, not very user friendly. I expected more from a media professor, but he does the best he can. Also, style-wise, he loses focus often. He thinks getting into the politics of China is important to point out Google's hegemony in other areas, but he goes too far into political China, I think. He does this in several areas, verges off the main question and drags in a lot of extraneous material. Maybe this is what he had to do to actually create an entire book.
Q. So do you recommend the book to readers?
A. Skim it. Read the headings and maybe the first sentence of each paragraph. Read more deeply if your interest is aroused. There are some things to be learned in the book, but it might get boring for the general reader. That's why it's better to skim or speed read.


The Gospel of Google
How Google Came to Rule the Web
Faith in Aptitude and Technology
Universal Surveillance and Infrastructural Imperialism
Prospects for a Global Public Sphere
The Future of Books
Information Overload Filters and the Fracturing of Knowledge
The Human Knowledge Project

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About the author (2011)

Siva Vaidhyanathan, Professor of Media Studies and Law at the University of Virginia, is the author of Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How It Threatens Creativity and The Anarchist in the Library: How the Clash between Freedom and Control Is Hacking the Real World and Crashing the System.

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