Google Is The New Surveillance

[wikilike_img src=|width=500|align=thumb tleft|caption=Google Absorption Plan|url=]

Why do I blog about this image? This one came across my reBlogger’s desk shortly after I offered a few remarks to a draft of an essay called “Meet the Spime” presented by Bruce Sterling right before he ran off to get married. Needless to say, it was a lively and all-too-short discussion/workshop format.

Here are a few nuggets to think about in the context of Google and the world of the spime.

Google is a good place to work and does good things, by most accounts. So, there’s that. All monopolies are selfish and they become unstable for their selfishness. They eat themselves. The joke that isn’t funny in that image is that Google doesn’t just aggregate, it consumes. I’m not saying that Google is a monopoly yet, but I wonder if it quickly could become one — a monopolist in the [w:episteme] of folksonomies, Web2.0, permalinks and trackbacks. A monopolist in the era when finding what you think you need is currency or a window into opportunities. With Google Base becoming the attic of tagged and marked “stuff”, does it seem to become what at first was intriguing and exciting and undo itself? Does the seduction of its clean, spartan, modernist, white interface (or “wand” if Google’s a spime wrangling instrument) hasten it to become the Wal-Mart of the tagged-and-named object world?

Google becomes the incarnation of what is potentially insidious about a crawlable world, where things about you (mostly unexpected) authored elsewhere are “open” for consumption. So, when Google crawled the ZKM which had made me 5 years older than I actually am, there was a sense of a different kind of identity crisis — not theft, or pernicious abuse, but, well — just crisis. It is as if Google is the new surveillance. Who hasn’t Google’d a friend, neighbor, enemy, blind date, prospective boss? And if nothing comes up, as Bruce pointed out, there’s a problem. “Would you go out with someone who had a 0 Google quotient?”

It isn’t a matter of taking over the universe. Monopolist of the gizmo era attempted that and continue to fail, albeit slowly. (Sony in the movie business? Huh?) It’s much easier to become the universe, especially in this new episteme where “findability” seems to matter most.

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