- Hardcover: 280 pages
- Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (March 8, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0520258827
- ISBN-13: 978-0520258822
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 30 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #925,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Googlization of Everything: (And Why We Should Worry) Hardcover – March 8, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. What is the nature of the transaction between Google's computer algorithms and its millions of human users? Are we heading down a path toward a more enlightened age, or are we approaching a dystopia of social control and surveillance? With these and other questions, University of Virginia media studies and law professor Vaidhyanathan thoughtfully examines the insidious influence of Google on our society. In just over a decade, Google has moved so rapidly in its mission to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful" that cries of "Google it!" resound through high school classrooms, business offices, academic halls, and public libraries. As Vaidhyanathan points out, we must be cautious about embracing Google's mission and not accept uncritically that Google has our best interests in mind. He reminds us that Google is a publicly traded, revenue-driven firm that is dangerous in many subtle ways. By valuing popularity over accuracy and established sites over new ones, Google sets its own agenda regarding what information is most relevant to users, altering their perceptions about value and significance. Vaidhyanathan admirably concludes with a design for an information ecosystem called the Human Knowledge Project, which would be a more democratic means of parsing and organizing knowledge. (Mar.)
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I got the feeling that I should have been given certain amount of Google shares since the company successfully used and sold each individual's marketing profile. :)
I think I will mention negative parts first:
1. It is quite clear that this books is written in "book style", by a humanities professor. It cannot be easily skimmed over to gather main ideas. The language at times is fairly hard to comprehend (sometimes I reread sentences a few times to fully get their meaning) and gets dry. Few sections of the book are plain slow.
2. Given #1, a brief summary of key chapter points in the style of 18th century books would be fantastic, or perhaps an opening paragraph with all the ideas to be presented in the sections (just like they teach writing essays in school).
3. I found the middle of the book (the presence of Google in various countries to be quite brief, perhaps shallow and not as well referenced - i.e. figures of number of Internet users in Russia as well as claim that Russian main search engine is closely tied to the state are not documented, albeit probably warranted), and, most importantly out of accord with the rest of the material.
Bottom line: this book leans towards an academic work, and, in imho, some background in academic reading, allows for better reading and understanding of this book. I have really enjoyed it, nonetheless, but Masters gave me some experience in such reading.
Now to the good parts:
1. Unlike some people's comments of this book being a simple Google bashing - it really is not. In fact, there are quite many positive points about every aspect of Google effect on the world that is discussed. What this book really is set out to do is to show the other side of all the wonders of Googalization. Almost everything in this world is a double edge knife. And a virtue when taken to extreme can become a vice. So, all along in the book, each section takes an aspect of Google's presence and effect on our lives and discusses the vices that have or could come out of it. It does not offer solutions in relevant degree of detail, this is not the goal of the work, this is a critical work. The solution part is really more of a "future work" section in a thesis.
I like that this criticism is done in calm manner, without much emotion, or provocative horrible stories.
2. For most part the referencing seams very thorough, I've looked up some books and articles mentioned and now on to reading them. In that sense this book is a good gateway to further reading about history of search engines, internet privacy and such.
3. The end of the book where relationship between Google and universities/scholars/research is discussed, is to me the best part, perhaps it is because it is the most dear to the author's heart (do to the nature of his work as university prof?). But it does well in raising important questions in this domain, although perhaps not answering. It would be nice to expand this section with even more comprehensive inclusion of facts and research in this area.
Does this book deserve 5 stars as popular account of vices associated with Google? No, it does not make a super easy read, but being what it is: a summary of academic research in a book, it is great.
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of course.Read more