By Edda R. Pitassi
Some books record facts. Some entertain. Some inform and offer insight. The best accomplish all these ends and still challenge a reader’s “blind faith and worship.”
“The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry)”, by Siva Vaidhyanathan, is a brilliant, critical, sobering look at a company that “dominates the World Wide Web.” Published in 2011 by University of California Press, the book assesses, examines and exposes Google’s successes – and the “technocratic way of working” its magic on millions of users.
In Chapter 2, “Google’s Ways and Means…Faith in Aptitude and Technology,” Vaidhyanathan links Google’s “Pragmatism of PageRank” to American pragmatism as understood and developed by two famous 19th century American philosophers: Charles Sanders Peirce and William James. The author explains how “a process of experimentation, discovery, feedback and consensus” generates a “truth.”
With clever analysis – and dedication to detail – the author shares with the attentive reader how to understand and appreciate the workings of the powerful hyperlinks, clicks on hyperlinks, algorithms and the Google way of searching the World Wide Web.
I always know how keenly a book exerts its power and influence over me by the number of 1-1/2” x 2” yellow post-its I affix to its pages. Chapters like “The Googlization of Knowledge: The Future of Books,” and “The Googlization of Memory: Information Overload, Filters, and the Fracturing of Knowledge,” have me inserting ubiquitous yellow highlighters throughout the book’s 265 pages. The Notes at the back of the book comprise 46 pages of comprehensive citations, research and quotes.
Siva Vaidhyanathan is a cultural historian and Professor of Media Studies and Law at the University of Virginia. He has authored several books and is a frequent contributor to many periodicals.
In our very fast world of point and click, social media, mass surveillance and wrenching change, Siva Vaidhyanathan cautions us to “approach the future of human knowledge with wisdom and trepidation rather than naïve, dazzled awe.”
Learn more about the author and his unique, lively, discursive style of teaching by clicking here, here or here. Or, if you haven’t yet tired of the omnipresent Google from this review, here’s a link to a recent New York Times opinion piece by Tom Friedman – further proof of the supremacy of this almighty behemoth