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October 1, 2007

The Googlization of Everything

Siva Vaidhyanathan's work in progress is a book that will address "three key questions: What does the world look like through the lens of Google? How is Google's ubiquity affecting the production and dissemination of knowledge? and, How has the corporation altered the rules and practices that govern other companies, institutions, and states?" It seems likely this will add more to the sum of human knowledge than, say, Jacques-Alain Miller's papal bull a while back.

With support from the Institute for the Future of the Book, Siva has started blogging the project as he goes. And he doesn't sound entirely comfortable doing so, which if anything makes the experiment more interesting:

For a number of years now I have made my bones in the intellectual world trumpeting the virtues of openness and the values of connectivity. I was an early proponent of applying "open source" models to scholarship, journalism, and lots of other things.

And, more to the point: One of my key concerns with Google is that it is a black box. Something that means so much to us reveals so little of itself.

So I would be a hypocrite if I wrote this book any other way. This book will not be a black box.

Of course, it could get ugly in here. I could make tremendous mistakes. I could shoot something out there that shuts all doors at Google. I could undermine my ultimate market (but I seriously doubt that I could). I could just write myself into a corner....

He gives an overview of what the book will look like -- insofar as he can say before writing it -- here.

(crossposted from Crooked Timber)

Posted by smclemee at October 1, 2007 2:16 PM


I'm the farthest thing from an expert on such matters, Lacanian or Googloid, but I was under the impression, garnered during an intro session years ago on web methods for journalists, that no search engine can actually deep-troll the "entire" web. The best any can do is about one-third, and therefore, the advice to us journalists about to grab the controls of the intermajiggy, was to use several engines for a more complete exploiration.

Perhaps this has changed, and it is quite possible today to "Google" everything, giving, as Mr. Miller believes, new digital meaning to the word "totalitarian." But if not, then he is, not surprisingly, overstating things wildly and Mr. Vaidhyanathan's title is more a fantasy-fulfillment.

Suggested alternate: "The Digital Engineer of Human Souls."

Posted by: book/daddy at October 1, 2007 4:37 PM

That's sure to sell better than The Gogolization of Everything.

Posted by: theorist at October 9, 2007 3:44 AM