This week’s reading discusses the growing power of Google and their increasing presence both in America and around the world. The author of the reading, Siva Vaidhyanathan offers many arguments about why the world’s Googlization could be something to worry about through its insistence on shaping the way people think as well as pointing out its potentially imperialistic globalization. Based on this week’s reading and previous knowledge of Google, I would argue that its acquisition of so much intellectual power over the world in addition to it perceived infallibility make it an inherently bad entity.
Google has managed not only to seize dominance over the world’s information, but they now frame their product in a way that allows people to become better Google users. Such cultural staples, like using “Google” as a verb, create a framework for Google to become a fundamental component in modern culture. Google differs from most businesses because unlike a product, Google is selling convenience of access to information. This may seem valuable and encouraged in a modern society, but the downsides to Google’s consolidation of information tend to rest on the backburner of the public’s psyche. Most people underestimate the power that comes from complete access to the flow of information. In its early stages, Google was able to see the eventual importance in the technological age of having access to information, and their capitalization on such a new, technological commodity was welcomed in America because it was seen as the company that would bring ease and convenience to the technological future. The problem lies in the hypothetical ideas of what Google could do with this power. The fact that Google has the ability to cripple entire nations simply through denying access to their services is a foreboding notion. The problem isn’t that Google will or even might carry out this type of action, but that such an action is within their capabilities.
Such globalized power poses an inherent risk on the principle of the marketplace of ideas. Theoretically, differing opinions should be criticized in a public forum in an attempt to reach a greater truth. The argument could be made that Google is the product of the marketplace of ideas and has risen due to society deeming it to be the amorphous found “truth”, but my issue is the fact that Google has now risen above criticism. It has become such a modern icon that its power is unmatched by any company. At what point is the line drawn between societal acceptance and domination?
The combination of Google’s possession of unprecedented intellectual dominance and its inability to be legitimately criticized are bad for a modern society. It feels almost ironic that a modern world, that continues to build principles of globalization, could allow such a domineering presence to permeate the modern world’s infrastructure. Google probably won’t become the totalitarian ruler that some fear it to be, but the possibility that it could is nevertheless ominous.