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The Googlization of Everything

(And Why We Should Worry), Updated Edition

Siva Vaidhyanathan (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 280 pages
ISBN: 9780520272897
March 2012
$24.95, £18.95
Other Formats Available:
In the beginning, the World Wide Web was exciting and open to the point of anarchy, a vast and intimidating repository of unindexed confusion. Into this creative chaos came Google with its dazzling mission—“To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible”—and its much-quoted motto, “Don’t be evil.” In this provocative book, Siva Vaidhyanathan examines the ways we have used and embraced Google—and the growing resistance to its expansion across the globe. He exposes the dark side of our Google fantasies, raising red flags about issues of intellectual property and the much-touted Google Book Search. He assesses Google’s global impact, particularly in China, and explains the insidious effect of Googlization on the way we think. Finally, Vaidhyanathan proposes the construction of an Internet ecosystem designed to benefit the whole world and keep one brilliant and powerful company from falling into the “evil” it pledged to avoid.
Siva Vaidhyanathan is the Robertson Family Professor of Media Studies and Law and Chair of the Department of Media Studies at the University of Virginia, and the author of Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How It Threatens Creativity and The Anarchist in the Library: How the Clash between Freedom and Control Is Hacking the Real World and Crashing the System.
“An important book. While a number of excellent histories about the emergence of Google have been published . . . few writers have tried to take a comprehensive and critical look at the wider impact on society of Google's vast ambition ‘to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.’. . . Vaidhyanathan's perspective as an East Coast academic outside the group-think of Silicon Valley is a valuable one. He is a clear writer with an engaging voice, and a good guide for this peek behind the wizard's curtain.”—San Jose Mercury News
“This book is in no way an attack on Google but more like a parent asking a child, ‘What do you want to do with your life?’ then going through all the concerns one by one. Strongly recommended for anyone interested in the subject.”—Library Journal
“Siva Vaidhyanathan . . . thinks we’ve become far too dependent on an arrogant, barely regulated company that gathers and stored tons of personal information about us.”—Nick Eaton Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“A stimulating and controversial book. Its subtitle is And Why We Should Worry - and what I didn't worry about made me think and argue. What is going on is fascinating, and as he makes clear, what could be going on if these tools and resources get into the metaphorical wrong hands is alarming.”—Times Higher Education
“Vaidhyanathan should be applauded for forcing the public to pay closer attention to gaping holes in Google’s ‘technocratic consciousness,’ and to the highly political nature of its algorithms, and to the ways in which the company’s rise needs to be viewed against the dwindling influence (and budgets) of public libraries. . . . He should also be given credit for trying to explain the historical forces—such as the de-regulation of the Reagan and Thatcher eras—that have so profoundly shaped today’s Internet.”—The New Republic
“What is the nature of the transaction between Google's computer algorithms and its millions of human users? Are we heading down a path toward a more enlightened age, or are we approaching a dystopia of social control and surveillance? With these and other questions, University of Virginia media studies and law professor Vaidhyanathan thoughtfully examines the insidious influence of Google on our society. In just over a decade, Google has moved so rapidly in its mission to ‘organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful’ that cries of ‘Google it!’ resound through high school classrooms, business offices, academic halls, and public libraries. As Vaidhyanathan points out, we must be cautious about embracing Google's mission and not accept uncritically that Google has our best interests in mind. He reminds us that Google is a publicly traded, revenue-driven firm that is dangerous in many subtle ways. By valuing popularity over accuracy and established sites over new ones, Google sets its own agenda regarding what information is most relevant to users, altering their perceptions about value and significance. Vaidhyanathan admirably concludes with a design for an information ecosystem called the Human Knowledge Project, which would be a more democratic means of parsing and organizing knowledge.” (Mar.)—Publishers Weekly
“We need writers like Vaidhyanathan to administer the antidote whenever we overdose on the sort of cyber-utopianism Google famously vended in its ‘don't be evil’ promise. “—San Francisco Chronicle
“Unequivocally, a brilliantly-conceived wakeup call.”—The Faster Times
“Recommended.”—B. Mitchell Choice
“We need writers like Vaidhyanathan to administer the antidote whenever we overdose on the sort of cyber-utopianism Google famously vended in its ‘don't be evil’ promise. “—Sunday Pocono Record
“Googlization articulates why the search engine should be regulated better than anything I've read yet. At 210 pages, it's well worth any Google watcher's time.”—Eweekgooglewatch
“Provocative new book.”—David Weir 7 X 7 SF
“[An] intriguing exposé of the popular website. . . . The author unmasks the monster behind the friendly interface with the suspense of a horror novel. An urgent reminder to look more closely at dangers that lurk in plain sight.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Eloquent and urgent public thinking of the rarest kind, on a subject with the most encompassing implications for our world. Please read it today.”- Jonathan Lethem, author of The Fortress of Solitude

"While there have been other books chronicling the company's amazing rise, I know of none that looks so broadly and smartly, soberly but entertainingly, at the implications of this giant new global fact of life. Siva Vaidhyanathan has set the table brilliantly for one of the most important conversations of the early 21st century."- Kurt Andersen, author of Reset: How This Crisis Can Restore Our Values and Renew America and radio host, Studio 360

"Vaidhyanathan is everything you could want in a cultural critic: funny, fantastically readable, and insightful as hell. It's always a treat when a new Vaidhyanathan comes out."—Cory Doctorow, author of For the Win and co-editor of Boing Boing (boingboing.net)

"Siva Vaidhyanathan's lively, thoughtful, and wide-ranging book makes clear, in detail, how Google is reshaping the way we live and work. He finds much to admire, but also challenges us to not only use Google's services, but to go beyond them to create a new and genuinely democratic information order."—Anthony Grafton, author of Codex in Crisis

“A provocative and irreverent book that aims to knock the Google-dust out of our eyes and teach us to be much more aware of the ruthless logic of Google’s growing power over how we view information and understand our world.”- Pamela Samuelson, Berkeley Law School

"This is a critically important book because it's really about the Googlization of All of Us. This is a brilliant meditation on technology, information, and consumer inertia, as well as an ambitious challenge to change how, where, why, and what we Google. Vaidhyanathan forces us to think long and hard about taking responsibility for what we all know and how we know it."—Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor of Slate Magazine

“This is such an important book—courageous and wise, with not an ounce of blather or hyperbole. Vaidhyanathan reminds us that ‘We are not Google’s customers: we are its products,’ and then explores the many profound implications of this reality. It’s going to be a long Age of Google, and we’re going to need this book throughout.” - David Shenk, author of Data Smog and The Genius in All of Us

“A powerful and gripping tour de force. Siva Vaidhyanathan uses Google to examine our capacity for blind faith and to worship innovation as an end in itself. You cannot read this book and remain unstirred.”-Tim Wu, author of The Master Switch and Professor, Columbia Law School

"This is an important and timely topic, and Vaidhyanathan's head and heart are in the right place to guide the public through the thickets of 'googlization'."—Paul Duguid, co-author of The Social Life of Information

"Finely written and engaging, this is a book for anyone who has used Google."—Toby Miller, author of Makeover Nation: The United States of Reinvention
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Interview of Siva Vaidhyanathan on CNN's Reliable Sources program, 2/27/11

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