Thursday, April 10, 2014


This chapter talks about how Google works, and the philosophies Google seems to follow. Vaidhyanathan uses many philosophical-esque terms throughout his writing about Google as a company. He also discusses the way we think of searching and technology throughout the chapter. Vaidhyanathan looks at what searching was like before Google became the huge power that it is today.  He examines Google’s rise to the top of the searching world by detailing the sources and recommendations of the website. Throughout the article, Vaidhyanathan discusses Google’s philosophies, and looks at how Google sees itself. Sometimes, Vaidhyanthan gets rather carried away with his techno-philosophy, while somehow circling around to relate it to how Google functions. The chapter also explains Google’s pagerank system, and how humans are involved with it. Vaidhyanathan’s chapter focuses on many of the concrete things Google does for searchers, but it also looks at how Google rose to power and the philosophy in practices.
The main thesis of this chapter of Vaidhyanathan’s book is that Google works well and treats its users well, but is not a perfect company. These reminders of Google’s imperfections stand in contrast to how Vaidhyanathan explains Google’s functionality and what it strives for. Many users see Google as an infallible resource when searching, but Vaidhyanathan argues that Google can fail its users.
This book was published in early 2011. In 2010, Google announced Google Fiber. This meant that Google was now more than a search site, browser, laptop, or phone. With Google Fiber, a home’s wifi will depend on Google as well. The title of Vaidhyanathan’s book is The Googilization of Everything. Not everything has Google stamped on it, but technology wise, if someone wanted to have a Google phone, browser, and computer that run on Google wifi, that is a now a possibility.
Siva Vaidhyanathan is a professor of media studies and law and the University of Virginia. Vaidhyanathan has a large media presence. He keeps up a blog where he works on new books as well as an active Twitter account. From his faculty page on the University of Virginia’s website, Vaidhyanathan has contributed to the Chronicle of Higher Education, New York Times Magazine, The Nation, and He has also contributed to the National Public Radio, and has made an appearance on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The most interesting fact I found about Siva Vaidhyanathan is in 2002 he was named one of the “Mover and Shakers” by Library Journal. Vaidhyanathan’s research is all about media issues, and he is a very knowledgeable person about matters pertaining to Google.
Overall, the reception of this book has been positive. According to the general public (on Amazon and Goodreads), Vaidhyanathan’s book is above three stars. Professor Daniel Rosenberg from the University of Oregon also thinks highly of Vaidhyanathan’s book; he thinks it is a great insight into the “monster” that is Google. The other reviews I looked at by scholars in peer reviewed journals were all fairly positive as well.

Siva Vaidhyanathan, "Google's ways and means," in The Googlization of Everything (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 2011), pp. 51-81.

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