Who’s Watching Google?

It’s become part of our browsers, our research habits, and our vocabulary. Most academics would agree that Google has made their lives easier. It provides us not just with searches but also scholarly articles, e-mail, shared documents, directions, and airline information.

A new book from Siva Vaidhyanathan warns that we should not uncritically welcome “Googlization.” Although signs of malfeasance are not apparent yet, Vaidhyanathan worries that Google’s goals do not align neatly with scholars’ goals. Google is publicly traded and accountable to shareholders. The company collects our personal information to put to its own, profit-making ends.

In an interview, the author lists other concerns. Google’s ease makes students less rigorous in their research. Its algorithms favor popularity, not accuracy. Of course, there’s the loss of productive time given over to watching YouTube videos. Despite the critique, the book concedes there is a lot to admire in Google. Let’s just be wary of any monopoly.


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  6. David says:

    Interesting reading and it seems that the big G is taking over! I just hope Yahoo and Bing can continue to compete in the Google dominated ‘world of search’…
    Many thanks!