Re: [NGC4LIB] Google Ngram Results

Posting to NGC4LIB

On 12/03/2013 21:32, john g marr wrote:

Hi, and thanks for restoring my faith in non-capitalist fair competition (or whatever). I’d also point out that we should be boycotting anything relating to the Web that spies on people and accumulates statistics about individuals. Just like who does what with drones (not to mention Facebook, etc.) when and where, if the technology exists, it is sure to be misused eventually unless “human nature” is drastically altered permanently (ask for comment on that, please).

I certainly sympathize with this, but there is a genuine trend toward what can be called “spying” technologies. Others would call it “adding social functionalities”. Much of it seems to be unavoidable, for instance with Google’s ability to “magically” zoom in on what you want. It does that by storing massive amounts of information about you. If Google didn’t do this, the search results would not be nearly as good. It costs them a lot of money to do this, and they are a for-profit organization, and they make their money not from us in the general public, who are led to believe we that are Google’s customers. We are not Google’s customers–we are their products. Google’s real customers are those organizations who pay them money for the Adwords we see everywhere; the Adwords program that is supposedly draining away the advertising from the traditional products such as newspapers, magazines, and so on.

What do these organizations get from Google? Google sells them its one and only product: our attention. Therefore, the situation resembles that of a dairy farm, which sells the milk of its cows. I can imagine that the cows locked in cages in a dairy farm think, “We are so important. All these people care for us so much. Every day people come and feed us, make us happy, keep us warm and milk us. The entire focus of the lives of all these people is to make us cows as happy as possible.” I remember that advertisement, one of my favorites, for Carnation milk: “Milk from Contented Cows.” Wonderful!

I guess it is better than “Milk from cows who understand how degenerate their situation is and want to regain their own, personal dignity.”

But Google treats us like Carnation treats its cows. This is one of the ways I would explain matters to the students. Carnation couldn’t care less about the cows. They care about the milk they get out of their cows. Carnation will do whatever it has to in order to get more and more milk out of the cows. They would milk them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week if they could.

In the same way, Google doesn’t care about us, they care about our eyeballs. What we look at, for how long, how we share it, what we like, blah blah blah. If they can, they want our eyeballs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and we see the evidence with Google Glasses.

And yet, getting away from this situation, which is so repugnant in many ways, is far more difficult and complex than it would seem.

Finally, yes–I think libraries and library values address these matters very directly and could become very important in finding solutions, but it would be extraordinarily difficult to do.

Google and related technologies have wonderfully successful public relations and advertising campaigns. As a result, I have discovered that the average person absolutely loves Google. For many young people, they have known it for as far back as they can remember. The page has never changed, it is undemanding, it is always there …

Therefore, you criticize Google to your own peril, especially if you are a librarian because people think you are only trying to preserve your own, antidiluvian way of existence. Therefore, talking about these matters must be done carefully and even strategically.