The genesis & historical trends of google search
Initially, Google search originated by Larry Page and Sergey in 1998 and firstly named it “BackRub”. As a search engine, it can be defined as an “information retrieval system that allows for keyword searches of distributed digital text.” “a system that indexes webpages” (Halavais 2013). User can access the resource including text, document, audio and video by google search.
According to the data by statcounter(figure 3) , google possesses the biggest market portion around worldwide. It is not represented as a brandy innovation, because a lot of techniques of Information retrieval and management also applied in the library in the early years, and the rising of computer contributed to mathematics and a linguistic way to organize information and knowledge (Halavais 2013). Then due to the industrial revolution and the ascending bureaucracy, storing files become increasingly important. In the twenty century, with the arrival of the world wide web，internet was growing exponentially，the number of people contributed to the document also increased (Halavais 2013). Moreover, the development of new technology, such as mobile phone， Siri on iPhone and google home, which allow the user to access the google research in an easier way in daily life, accompanied with higher frequency for use. For example, the user can simply search a five-star café by asking Siri. Thereby, world wide web which produces a new information milieu and development of technology promote the google search to be a part of historical trends in information management.
Who has benefit?
Moreover, capitalist and people who dominate power of discourse benefit from the google search’s transformative effects in a political economic and social sense, and the people who are not white man often discriminate and marginalized by the “algorithms” and “big data” of google search, but also it weakens the power of elite influencer. Google is recognized as an advertising company, a capitalist enterprise. Jarrett（2014）illuminates the implicit relationship with capital. To be specific, google search utilize users’ search history and activity reassemble and reorganized information to depict the picture of Demographics and preference, so these users’ activity will convert to the commodities which equip with value of economy (p.14). Fuchs(2012) researched two method google used to explain the “internet prosumer commodification”, one side google may upload content which created by the user, so user participates in as meta-exploiter for content producing. One the other side, when user uses google search service for looking book or search a video on YouTube or finding a location etc, google produce and storage these user activates for generated targeted advertising（p.43）．Jarret (2014) compared user to the unpaid worker of google search. He mentioned that “…in the process of reification and alienation of user activity inherent to the database of intention, my thoughts and activists are transformed into an alienation objected that is no longer part of me ”(p.19). Therefore, user data become an economic plus and nourish google search. under this circumstance, Google can build more server farms and new system to more efficiently capture and track user’s data for economic profit. YouTube which is Google’s video site, also allows users to do search activity. It was fined 170 million for collecting children’s personal information without their parents’ consent to earned millions of dollars of targeted ads. This video below is the record of an IN-PERSON press conference hosted by federal trade commission.
Figure 4 an IN-PERSON press conference of google
image: FTC,some right reserved
Who has not benefit?
Furthermore, google search reflect the existing social prejudices and even reinforce the bias by keeping stereotype according to the gender, race, age and social class, etc. Halavais (2013) described the search engine as a touch-stone of digital culture and a mirror to reflect society. Noble (2018) who is a black feminism states that although the “big data” “algorithms” are seemly objective and neutral, the mathematical formulation and produces behind are designed by human beings. Those who have different kinds of values including but not limited to “racism, sexism, and meritocracy”. There is always a gaze for coloured race and women under the patriarchy society. Baker (2013) take google auto-complete search algorithm as an example to illustrate social bias. In his study, he found out that searching for certain identity groups were linked to the particular description, such as Muslims and Jewish associate with appearance or behaviour, while White people will be linking to the sex and suggesting that white people are more sexually capable. Also，gay and black people are more related to negative stereotypes. Thus, these people who are not Whiteman as a group did not benefit from the online innovation of google search because systemic discrimination and social bias lay the roots in the algorithm.
The effect to ordinary users
From individual perspective, as a student, google search provides me with social hot spot, public opinion and also an assemblage of education and media sources. Google search website enables the user to search more than text, also the audio, video, and image. As Focus (2012) argue that “ Google is a prototypical example for the antagonisms between networked productive forces and capitalist relations of production of the information economy”. Google search promote the society member to interact, communicate, and share the fruits of labour in efficiently way. It is a reflection an energetic productive force of internet. Nevertheless, when networked productive clash with the existing capitalism, it derives destructive forces which are machinery and money. Besides, the problem it presents to me is information overload, since when I search text in google, it will show massive information. Thus, when I explore the google search, excessive information enables me to have difficulty understanding one specific topic or issue due to the interference of wrong information.
In summary，because of the new information milieu and the development of technology, online innovation, google search inextricably becomes a part of historical trends in internetworked communications, media or information management. Moreover, the capitalist may make money benefit from the advertising in the google search by collecting the user’s activity in search engine. However, different from the who is equipped with “leading force” of society, the stereotype of disadvantage group including women or black people, etc may be intensified by google. For individual, google search is able to provide plenty of educational resources, especially for the student who study the digital culture. Google search allows me to track social hotspot efficiently. Additionally, student need to identify and classify the information carefully due to unreliability of part of sources.
Baker, P. (2013). “Why do white people have thin lips?” Google and the perpetuation of stereotypes via auto-complete search forms. Critical Discourse Studies, 10(2), 187–204.
Finkelstein, S (2008), ‘Google, Links and Popularity vs Authority’, The Hyperlinked Society, Joseph Turow and Lokman Tsui (eds), University of Michigan Press. pp. 104-120.
Fuchs, C., & Fuchs, C. (2012). Google Capitalism. TripleC: Open Access Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society, 10(1), 42–48.
Halavais, A. (2013). The engines. In Search engine society. Cambridge, UK ; Malden, MA: Polity, 5–31.
Jarrett, K. (2014). A database of intention. In Society of the query reader: Reflections on web search.Amsterdam: Institute of networked cultures,16–29
Noble, S. U. (2018). A society, searching. In Algorithms of Oppression: How search engines reinforce racism, New York University, 15–63.
Baker, P. (2013). Image of gay people searching. Retrieved from https://sydney.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/view/action/uresolver.do?operation=resolveService&package_service_id=11845241500005106&institutionId=5106&customerId=5105
Ferderal Trade commission.(2019).170 million fine for google. Retrieved from https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2019/09/google-youtube-will-pay-record-170-million-alleged-violations
Hebi. (2014).Image of google search. Pixabay. Retrieved from
Standard university.(2020).Retrieved from https://engineering.stanford.edu/about/visit/inside-engineering-quad
Statcounter.(2020). Image of google search market share. Retrieved from https://gs.statcounter.com/search-engine-market-share