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The Googlization of Everything: (And Why We Should Worry)

3.62  ·  Rating Details  ·  520 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
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 examine ...more
Hardcover, 280 pages
Published March 8th 2011 by University of California Press (first published 2010)
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In the Plex by Steven LevyI'm Feeling Lucky by Douglas EdwardsHow Google Tests Software by James A. WhittakerThe Googlization of Everything by Siva VaidhyanathanAre You Smart Enough to Work at Google? by William Poundstone
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4th out of 17 books — 16 voters
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Emma Sea
Ok, so firstly, thank you Siva Vaidhyanathan for picking a book title that gave me Zoolander flashbacks for three days straight /sarcasm.

Vaidhyanathan's general argument is that information is too important for us to rely on a monolithic corporate entity to manage our access to it.

"We should not trust Google to be the custodian of our most precious cultural and scientific resources" (p. 202).

He sees information as being better managed by public service non-profit bodies, in the same way as the
Apr 05, 2011 Ryan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What if there was this magnanimous entity that took the internet and effectively organized it free of charge so that people could, with high frequency, find exactly what they're looking for on the sprawling, lawless worldwide web. Then what if this same entity undertook projects to map the entire world and scan millions of books, also free of charge. Wouldn't that be the most horrific fate you can imagine? Wouldn't it be better if some unwieldy coalition of public institutions put together an at ...more
Sep 04, 2011 Tucker rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished
Siva Vaidhyanathan says in the afterword that his book was inspired by Veblen's writings, which is fitting for a company like Google which he describes as making most of its money off of advertisements, but I found that the book had unexpectedly spiritual overtones.

To be "Googlized" in his definition is to have one's daily living and one's life trajectory altered by Google. This happens because "Google has permeated our culture."

He observes that search engines have to copy content on the Interne
Aug 20, 2014 Colleen826 rated it liked it
If you’ve ever been troubled by Google’s seemingly omnipotent presence, its domination over the Internet, or just the sheer size of the behemoth company, then you might consider reading this book. I typically don’t go for nonfiction because I prefer arguments and ideals to be subtly embedded within a fictional framework, but overall, I am glad that I took the time to read it.

Although Siva Vaidhyanathan is Professor of Media Studies and Law at the University of Virginia, The Googlization of Every
Apr 09, 2011 Desiree rated it really liked it
"We must build the sort of online ecosystem that can benefit the whole world over the long term, not one that serves the short-term interests of one powerful company, no matter how brilliant."

"The Google Books plan is a perfect example of public failure." If they are allowed to continue, Google will "own" the rights to all books! It's one thing to allow people to view books online that have expired copyright, however, Google would be the only place that these books would be available! Even copyr
This was a very interesting book. It had a pretty negative tone, especially starting out and obviously it's a book written by someone that is wary of the power and monopoly of Google, but I think he does make a few interesting and important points that we should think about in this quickly changing world of technology. Technology really is affecting the way we live and is changing our culture.

I think it's important to understand how things that we use every day affect us. We should remember tha
Justin Charity
May 26, 2014 Justin Charity rated it it was ok
Much of the book (most of the first half) is a conceptual exploration of online privacy. It's a weak section relative to the rest of the book, largely because he spends more time doing sociology and illuminating competing cultural values than he spends fleshing out his actual argument: that privacy is a flat value, that you can't barter in degrees of privacy, that privacy can't simply be "redefined" to accommodate the arrival of the internet, and that we shouldn't do so even if we could.

The res
Heather Halliday
This book provides some much needed critical review of the Google juggernaut - its current place in our culture; its displacement of civic, government, and public services; our own misperceptions of what Google actually is. Vaidhyanathan approaches the subject from a variety of angles and ties in many interesting ideas to his arguments. He does not roundly, thoroughly condemn Google, but rather critically examines the cultural, social and educational value it holds right now, while acknowledging ...more
Mar 15, 2012 Robin rated it did not like it
This dude was not a good writer. Boring, boring writing. And it made me like Goggle that much more.
Ken McDouall
Dec 22, 2014 Ken McDouall rated it really liked it
Vaidhyanathan is an astute critic of what he deems "techno-fundamentalism" and a champion of civil society and a meaningful global public culture. He is by no means out to destroy Google, and in fact is quite an admirer of what the company has accomplished. He just wants us to remember that it IS a company, and its duty is to make profits, not to be a force for good in the world. This book does a commendable job of laying out where to look for the biases and assumptions that underlie Google's ac ...more
May 14, 2011 Juan rated it really liked it
The Googlization of Everything explores the rise of Google and how it effects the way we search, think, and behave on the internet. Siva Vaidhyanathan asks the tough questions to a company whose meteoric rise is unparalleled. Google known mostly on their simple to use search engine yet they are one of the largest ad companies in the world.

Google is so large they have started to show signs of monopolization in new markets. The Google Books project is a prime example of Google positioning itself
Aug 02, 2011 Keli rated it liked it
A lot of interesting ideas are brought up in this book. And I agree with the point that now is the time to mitigate the power of Google rather than later (as per the author's analogy with automobiles.) However, some of the book was rather vague, granted this is due in large part to the fact that we have no idea what the long term ramifications of Google will be. I do think that Google is being held to a higher standard than other companies (this is especially apparent in regards to their dealing ...more
Dec 10, 2012 Bob rated it really liked it
Recommended to Bob by: Heather Pehnec
Shelves: science
The author values Google's services (making the world-wide web usable, providing communications for previously marginalized groups, attempting to provide access to our cultural memories) more than most of us but questions whether a business corporation, for which we are really products more than users, is the best choice to act as custodian of our humanity's information, documents, and images. He discusses the ways in which the company has, with the best intentions in the world, come to dominat ...more
Sonja Peterson
Aug 05, 2013 Sonja Peterson rated it liked it
Vaidhyanathan was very careful not to oversimplify his critiques, acknowledging both the dangers and benefits of "Googlization," but as a result it was difficult to see what, exactly, most of his critiques were. The main idea I took away from it was that Google, a private company, is fulfilling a function that should be fulfilled by a public institution. We've learned to blindly trust tech companies like Google--what Vaidhyanathan calls "technofundamentalism"--and while it's worked ok for us so ...more
Jul 08, 2013 Jon rated it liked it
Shelves: tech
This was informative, but very academic and dry, with the main idea being that Google is a private marketing company, not a benevolent public institution that should become sole public repository for the world's information.

Anyone who remembers searching with a question in the early days of the web and getting back pages and pages of the same parroted question can relate to how far Google has taken searching on the web. It has become good enough to become the default.

Google's other products are
Sep 10, 2012 Cami rated it liked it
I can hardly say I have any experience with computers, except for understanding a few simple computer programs and the ability to work my way through various social media websites. For my job at the Museum of Art, I have even learned a little of wiki html, but I cannot even begin to suggest that I have even a small understanding of the vast workings behind all of the computer programming of internet websites.

In Vaidhyanathan's book he suggests that Google has provided a (currently positive and h
Jun 10, 2012 Slareck rated it really liked it
As always, Vaidhyanathan provides a keenly critical, well-informed, fresh, and deep assessment to a subject that is understudied from that type of perspective. I loved his Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How It Threatens Creativity for the same reasons: he approaches the topic with fairness and a firm desire for outcomes that are good for publics, not profits. All too often today we have market fundamentalists holding that whatever is good for profits is equivale ...more
Fr. Ted
Jun 05, 2012 Fr. Ted rated it really liked it
This is not a topic I read a lot about, so the 4 stars are given because I learned a lot from the text about what Google is and does. Vaidhyanathan is offering a critical analysis of Google and also of our complete trust that Google is somehow a benevolent organization whose activities have no real moral implication and so we should just let them do what they do and even enable them to do it better. Google is a corporation which serves its investors' interests. Google has positioned itself to be ...more
Karlo Mikhail
Aug 24, 2012 Karlo Mikhail rated it really liked it
To search for something on the Web using Google is not unlike confessing your desires to a mysterious power. — Siva Vaidhyanathan

In one of my national democratic youth activist friends online conversations with Simsimi, the free artificial intelligence conversation program, they were flattered to hear positive responses about the mass organizations of which they were active members.

When they asked about a pseudo-progressive group, my friends were surprised to read a very militant reply disparagi
I am a Google super user. My browser homepage is Google. My email is through Gmail. My blog is hosted by Blogger. I have a Google+ account. I use Google Calendar and Google Docs. My cell phone runs on a Google Android operating system. I prefer Google and I didn't need to read this book to know that Google likes and wants people to prefer their products and services. In the back of my mind, I've questioned if this total infiltration of one company's wares into every aspect of my life was a good ...more
Eric Phetteplace
Aug 30, 2011 Eric Phetteplace rated it it was ok
Shelves: lis-web
I didn't overcome much of my pro-Google bias by reading this book, which is disappointing. The argumentation was spotty (an anecdote about your one journalist friend who defaults to Google Docs does not suffice to show that the company stifles innovative competitors) and most chapters failed to coalesce ("How Google Came to Rule the Web" explains no such thing). I love the central thesis--that we cannot trust a corporation with such massive responsibility, but need an NGO public org of some sort ...more
Sarah Sammis
Nov 07, 2012 Sarah Sammis rated it it was ok
The Googlization of Everything by Siva Vaidhyanathan looks at Google history and it's growing reach of services across the internet. The thesis is that Google is striving to control the world's access to the internet to harvest as much marketable data as possible.

Right off the bat, though, Vaidhyanathan approaches the different pieces of Google's services with a clear anti-Google agenda. With such negativity regardless of the evidence presented, it's hard to take any of his observations seriousl
Feb 18, 2012 Kat rated it liked it
Before beginning this book, I skimmed the reviews on Goodreads. It seemed that there was a large percentage of readers who were disatified with the book because it did not convince them to drop Google or scare them away. Having read through the book now, I do not believe that was the point. Vaidhyanathan presents a very reasonable and balanced argument against letting Google have free rein, not for eliminating Google from our lives entirely. Google as a company does some things very well, and we ...more
Mar 15, 2015 Butterfly rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015, technology
Dr. Vaidhyanathan seems to have a love/hate relationship with everything Google. He spends most of the book telling us why the seemingly good things Google does for us for “free” have a hidden cost in the loss of our privacy and implicit agreement to be marketed to at every click of the mouse. The author makes an astute observation how students (and people in general) have abandoned the research skills taught by librarians for the ease of querying the Google oracle expecting “truth” to be displa ...more
Oct 07, 2013 Irena rated it really liked it
Questions whether our increasing, uncritical faith and dependence on Google is for the better or for the worse. The author does not rush to judge Google but simply shows both sides of the bargain for Googles services aren't entirely free.
Regarding the Google's great book project, the author warns that Google is merely a company that might come to an end in the (near?) future, whereas the universities are long-lasting and therefore the digitization of books should not be vested in the hands of a
Jun 08, 2014 Rachel rated it really liked it
I recommend reading Emma Sea's review of this book, she brings up many of the same points I would have and says it much better than I ever could. Definitely an interesting read.
May 23, 2015 Tony rated it it was ok
This gets a bonus for raising some interesting questions occasionally, but the delivery is terrible. The comparison of Google's rise to power with that of Julius Caesar is an evocative one, though underdeveloped. Similarly, the thesis that by doing nothing (or, too little too late) we allowed car companies and airlines to shape our societies much more for their own benefits than for ours during the 20th Century, and need to be very careful not to let technology companies do likewise in the 21st ...more
Tara Brabazon
May 04, 2011 Tara Brabazon rated it liked it
This is a text of synthesis rather than a monograph that constructs new theories or paradigms. Vaidhyanathan explores Google through issues such as privacy, copyright and security. There is also a section on higher education. Most importantly he offers a reminder that Google is a corporation, rather than a charity or deity.

There is one sentence that is profoundly resonant for my research: “We trust Google with our personal information and preferences and with our access to knowledge because we t
I pick it up now and then, but I'm not making it straight through The Googlization of Everything like I read other books. I think it's because, like everybody else in the world, I don't care that Google has got control of the all the bits and bytes and everything. As the subtitle indicates, I should be worried. Compared to other problems in the world, the Googlization of everything just doesn't seem that bad.

Perhaps I will read further, catch the fever and fight the Google fire. For now, I'm cr
Apr 19, 2012 Hannah rated it really liked it
As someone interested in information science, I thought this book was extremely interesting. The author claims that this isn't an ordinary book about Google and its beginnings, which may be true, but there was still a lot of information pertaining to Google and less about our effects on Google or how we could have effects on Google. I definitely feel more informed after reading this book, and I have learned how to put less trust in Google. Although, I still trust Google with a lot of my life, an ...more
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Falvey Reads: Google & Libraries 1 6 Jun 20, 2012 05:20AM  
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Robertson Family Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia.

Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin.

B.A., University of Texas at Austin.

Siva Vaidhyanathan is a cultural historian and media scholar, and is currently a professor of media studies at the University of Virginia. From 1999 through the summer of 2007 he worked in the Department of Culture and Communication at New York Universi
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