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The Googlization of Everything: (And Why We Should Worry) Paperback – March 13, 2012

3.8 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Siva Vaidhyanathan . . . thinks we've become far too dependent on an arrogant, barely regulated company that gathers and stored tons of personal information about us."--Nick Eaton"Seattle Post-Intelligencer" (05/21/2011)

Siva Vaidhyanathan . . . thinks we ve become far too dependent on an arrogant, barely regulated company that gathers and stored tons of personal information about us. --Nick Eaton"Seattle Post-Intelligencer" (05/21/2011)"

From the Inside Flap

“Eloquent and urgent public thinking of the rarest kind, on a subject with the most encompassing implications for our world. Please read it today.”- Jonathan Lethem, author of The Fortress of Solitude

"While there have been other books chronicling the company's amazing rise, I know of none that looks so broadly and smartly, soberly but entertainingly, at the implications of this giant new global fact of life. Siva Vaidhyanathan has set the table brilliantly for one of the most important conversations of the early 21st century."- Kurt Andersen, author of Reset: How This Crisis Can Restore Our Values and Renew America and radio host, Studio 360

"Vaidhyanathan is everything you could want in a cultural critic: funny, fantastically readable, and insightful as hell. It's always a treat when a new Vaidhyanathan comes out."—Cory Doctorow, author of For the Win and co-editor of Boing Boing (boingboing.net)

"Siva Vaidhyanathan's lively, thoughtful, and wide-ranging book makes clear, in detail, how Google is reshaping the way we live and work. He finds much to admire, but also challenges us to not only use Google's services, but to go beyond them to create a new and genuinely democratic information order."—Anthony Grafton, author of Codex in Crisis

“A provocative and irreverent book that aims to knock the Google-dust out of our eyes and teach us to be much more aware of the ruthless logic of Google’s growing power over how we view information and understand our world.”- Pamela Samuelson, Berkeley Law School

"This is a critically important book because it's really about the Googlization of All of Us. This is a brilliant meditation on technology, information, and consumer inertia, as well as an ambitious challenge to change how, where, why, and what we Google. Vaidhyanathan forces us to think long and hard about taking responsibility for what we all know and how we know it."—Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor of Slate Magazine

“This is such an important book—courageous and wise, with not an ounce of blather or hyperbole. Vaidhyanathan reminds us that ‘We are not Google’s customers: we are its products,’ and then explores the many profound implications of this reality. It’s going to be a long Age of Google, and we’re going to need this book throughout.” - David Shenk, author of Data Smog and The Genius in All of Us

“A powerful and gripping tour de force. Siva Vaidhyanathan uses Google to examine our capacity for blind faith and to worship innovation as an end in itself. You cannot read this book and remain unstirred.”-Tim Wu, author of The Master Switch and Professor, Columbia Law School

"This is an important and timely topic, and Vaidhyanathan's head and heart are in the right place to guide the public through the thickets of 'googlization'."—Paul Duguid, co-author of The Social Life of Information

"Finely written and engaging, this is a book for anyone who has used Google."—Toby Miller, author of Makeover Nation: The United States of Reinvention
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; First Edition, Updated Edition edition (March 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520272897
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520272897
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #351,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jonathan Zittrain on March 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The Googlization of Everything offers a crisp vision for what kind of information society we should be building. That one might not agree with it is a feature -- this is a book that doesn't state the obvious. Rather, it pushes us to rethink what we take for granted, noticing the medium in which we swim, instead of just moving right along.

The book is an impressive synthesis of the current thinking on and around Google -- much of it applicable to any contemporary dot-com with runaway success. One of Siva's objections to the "googlization" of the online knowledge space is that while institutions like libraries and universities typically plan to be around in a hundred years, companies like Google do not necessarily have, or plan for, such staying power. This is a nicely contestable sentiment -- that, as a corporate entity, Google is inherently shorter lived then, say, the University of Virginia, or at least its values are less consistent over time. It sets up a deeper question of what mix of institutions ought to contribute to the world and serve as gateways to our accumulated knowledge, and with what ethos (ethoi?).

In the last section, Siva proposes a Human Knowledge Project. The name is derived from the Human Genome Project. It is intended to be a "global information ecosystem," essentially a Google by and for the public sphere: "The Human Knowledge Project should [be] open, public, global, multilingual, and focused. It should be sensitive to the particular needs of communities of potential knowledge users around the world, yet it should be committed to building a global system that can erase the gaps in knowledge that current exist between a child growing up in a poor village in South Africa and another growing up in a wealthy city in Canada.
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Format: Hardcover
I was first introduced to Siva Vaidhyanathan's work a few years ago when he gave a presentation on the Google Books Project, a project in which my institution was set to participate with full force. As a librarian with a love of technology but a hearty skepticism about its effects on society, I expected the presentation to be a love letter to Google. Instead the presentation turned out to be a love letter to libraries and librarians, and I have been a fan of his ever since.

I found the same his latest book, the "Googlization of Everything". The idea of "techno-fundamentalism" resonated deeply with me as I have struggled with efforts in my profession to abandon tried and true methods of librarianship and information science in the rush to embrace the latest gadget or newest technology. Indeed, American culture (and it could be argued Western culture as well) has become fascinated with all things tech to the point of techno-fundamentalism, or a blind faith in technology and its ability to solve all the world's problems. Technology has done great things for the human race, but has also had weighty consequences as well.

The author does not seek to destroy Google or even hope for its demise. Instead he argues that we need to take back the objects of our culture from Google and others who, in the name of technology, progress, faster search and access, would seek to monopolize them and make money from them. I appreciate Dr. Vaidhyanathan's vision for a Human Knowledge Project, and hope to assist him and others in making that a reality. True change will only come about through deliberation, debate, and collaboration. It will not be handed down from a "benevolent giant" like Google.
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Format: Hardcover
Google's been in the news a lot the past week. Concerned about the quality of their search results, they're imposing new penalties on "content farms" and certain firms, including JC Penney and Overstock.com. Accusations are flying fast and furious; the "antichrist of Silicon Valley" has flatly told the Googlers to "stop cheating."

As the debate heats up and accelerates in internet time, it's a pleasure to turn to Siva Vaidhyanathan's The Googlization of Everything, a carefully considered take on the company composed over the past five years. After this week is over, no one is going to really care whether Google properly punished JC Penney for scheming its way to the top non-paid search slot for "grommet top curtains." But our culture will be influenced in ways large and small by Google's years of dominance, whatever happens in coming years. I don't have time to write a full review now, but I do want to highlight some key concepts in Googlization, since they will have lasting relevance for studies of technology, law, and media for years to come.

Cryptopicon

Dan Solove helped shift the privacy conversation from "Orwell to Kafka" in a number of works over the past decade. Other scholars of surveillance have first used, and then criticized, the concept of the "Panopticon" as a master metaphor for the conformity-inducing pressures of ubiquitous monitoring. Vaidhyanathan observes that monitoring is now so ubiquitous, most people have given up trying to conform. As he observes,

[T]he forces at work in Europe, North America, and much of the rest of the world are the opposite of a Panopticon: they involve not the subjection of the individual to the gaze of a single, centralized authority, but the surveillance of the individual, potentially by all, always by many.
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