Google and the Culture of Search

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9780415883016: Google and the Culture of Search

What did you do before Google?

The rise of Google as the dominant Internet search provider reflects a generationally-inflected notion that everything that matters is now on the Web, and should, in the moral sense of the verb, be accessible through search. In this theoretically nuanced study of search technology’s broader implications for knowledge production and social relations, the authors shed light on a culture of search in which our increasing reliance on search engines influences not only the way we navigate, classify, and evaluate Web content, but also how we think about ourselves and the world around us, online and off.

Ken Hillis, Michael Petit, and Kylie Jarrett seek to understand the ascendancy of search and its naturalization by historicizing and contextualizing Google’s dominance of the search industry, and suggest that the contemporary culture of search is inextricably bound up with a metaphysical longing to manage, order, and categorize all knowledge. Calling upon this nexus between political economy and metaphysics, Google and the Culture of Search explores what is at stake for an increasingly networked culture in which search technology is a site of knowledge and power.

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About the Author:

Ken Hillis is Professor of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is author of Online a Lot of the Time: Ritual, Fetish, Sign , also published by Routledge and Digital Sensations: Space, Identity and Embodiment in Virtual Reality. He is co-editor of Everyday eBay: Culture, Collecting, and Desire, also published by Routledge.

Michael Petit is Program Director, Media Studies and Joint Programme in New Media at University of Toronto Scarborough. He is author of Peacekeepers at War: A Marine's Account of the Beirut Catastrophe and co-editor of Everyday eBay: Culture, Collecting, and Desire.

Kylie Jarrett
 is Lecturer in Multimedia at the Centre for Media Studies at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, where she is programme coordinator for the BA Digital Media. Her research explores the political economy and discourses of the commercial Web.


"What this book makes abundantly clear is that Google is not just the architect of searching culture, but the architect, the building and the land on which the structure is built, as well as the supplier from which building materials are sourced. This is the phenomenon that affects researchers and practitioners: Google is the arbiter of the truth."

Andrew Smith-Herman, Electronic Media & Politics

"One of the best and most theoretically rigorous takes on the search giant."

Evgeny Morozov, New Republic, February 5, 2013.

"Google and the Culture of Search is a book that I have no qualms about recommending wholeheartedly." 

David Stuart, Online Information Review 37: 4 (2013)

"Google and the Culture of Search stimulates readers to think about the challenges posed by Google's combining of metaphysical forces with material forces. In a time in which the question "What did you do before Google? has become important both epistemologically and ontologically, Google and the Culture of Search makes a provoking read and provides many new insights into how Google (problematically?) positions itself in our 'society of the query'."

Frederiek Pennink, Society of the Query
, May 28, 2013.

"Some say Google makes us stupid. Others say it should make us worry. Google and the Culture of Search makes us both smarter and more worried about Google’s monopoly powers. As Hillis et al. show, Google’s lineage runs less to General Motors than to a long line of mathematicians and metaphysicians who wanted to organize the world’s information―never before has the strange beast of Google been so clearly put into its proper family tree. Read this book!" ―John Durham Peters, University of Iowa

"If you wonder why Google gets billions of search queries every day, and (like me) don't think ‘because it's free’ or ‘because it's there’ are sufficient answers, you should read this book. It’s a treasure trove of insights into the culture of search." ―Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, Oxford Internet Institute

"The strength of this work lies in its copious and meticulous detail, which provides a firm basis for the authors’ arguments. Hillis, Petit, and Jarrett take the reader on a historical journey through the intertwined ideas of knowledge automation and the search for truth, conveying the reader through the philosophical roots of Atomism and Neo-Platonism, to pan-psychic visions of a universal library and HiveMind, and culminating at the relatively modern depictions of aWorld Brain and Universal Electronic Library." - Kelly Quinn, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA

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