It occurred to me the other day that a whole generation of humans has almost grown up since Google was founded in 1997. And that means a whole generation has taken Google for granted as a part of their universe.
On September 30, 2007, a group of Austrian social scientists released a study entitled, “Report on Dangers and Opportunities Posed by Large Search Engines, Particularly Google.” It’s a truly amazing study and if you haven’t read it you can find a copy here.
One of the more interesting things that they posit is that there’s been a paradigm shift in the way that we receive and therefore perceive knowledge. Since the Gutenberg Revolution storage and selection of information was primarily the responsibility of the scientific community, with an emphasis on free dissemination of knowledge. In the, “Google Galaxy,” it is now the responsibility of computer geeks and advertising salesmen, with an emphasis on exclusion rather than inclusion.
In a phrase, previous generations have had libraries as portals to knowledge, whereas we now have Google as the self-appointed gatekeeper to knowledge.
Another interesting conclusion they reached is that for many people Reality = Internet and Internet = Google. In other words, more and more people go to the internet to, “find out,” about the world rather using personal investigation or books. Google has done such a fine job of convincing people that only their Super Duper Sacred Algorithm of Search can deliver the Truth, that more and more people use it as their exclusive search engine.
So, for a large part of the human population, whatever snap shot Google serves up in search returns IS reality.
Now, that’s an awesome amount of power but, thus far, the Googlettes in Mountain View have shown that they have the arrogance to go with it.
The main myth that underlies all of Google’s amazing rise to prominence is the assumption that knowledge and information can be placed in a hierarchy based upon the number of people seeking it. There is supposedly no effort to form a hierarchy based on actual value of information as assessed by a human brain. Rather, robots with no inherent prejudices will determine the value of the knowledge on websites based on super secret mathematical formulas.
All of which is bullshit, of course.
Behind all of the algorithms and robots there are human beings writing computer codes and they are inevitably building their prejudices as to what is important and what isn’t into those codes. Given that those people are controlling a large portion of our perceived reality, I thought it might be fun to write a blog looking a little more closely at who they are and how they think. I hope you’ll enjoy it.