musings of a mediabot

Ga-ga over google

Posted on: October 21, 2008

I seem to keep jumping on, then jumping off this digital culture bandwagon.  I can’t keep still.

Sometimes I can’t get enough of the ride, the technological turns that make me Oooh and Aaahhh, and then other times, I feel so sickened by another ridiculous gadget that’s cluttering my digital head, that I want to say To hell with it!  I will snuggle with my book (yes, book) and be happy with the contained knowledge held within.

But then the bells of the wagon come a-ringling…and I open the pages to John Battelle‘s The Search.  I can read it, watch a video of Battelle summarizing it, join a Google Group discussion and chat about it, read others’ blogs about it, and on and on.  (If you haven’t caught the ad nauseam nature of the previous sentence, you may not get the point of this post.  Stop reading now.) 

Welcome to the Google lovefest.   Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m all for love and all for fests, but I am not all for aimlessly jumping into the throes of a completely digital society without considering what impact it has on our souls. 

Here’s what unsettles me most about Battelle’s discussion of Google being the All-Supreme-Search-God-of-the-Americas-and-the-Land-Beyond-the-Americas:

Google may archive our intentions into one database, but do they really capture the essence of who we are as a people?  Battelle never discusses the essence of being human.  He says we all have desires and birth them by entering keywords into a search box, but this sounds like two-dimensional behavior to me.  We perform an act when searching for that perfect birthday gift, or the cheapest textbook, or that high school lover, but Google can infer no meaning from our acts.  Google cannot capture the essence of our wanting, the magical potion that makes us human.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love Google.  I love gchatting with friends; I love that gmail saves all of my emails and conversations; I love seeing that McDonald’s-esque ticker telling me how much more space I can fill with my daily banter making me feel like what I say is very important and should be preserved for all of eternity; I love Google’s seeming simplicity (even though now I know how complex the machine really is, thanks to Battelle); and I love the idea of geeks getting the credit, and filled pockets, they deserve.

But, should we really go ga-ga over Google?  What is it really doing for us?  How is it nurturing my soul?  If to nurture means to provide me more digital potholes where I am distracted by things to buy, trivial information to clutter my brain, endless banter and blog vomit to choke my precious day, then I say No thanks. 

I’m not saying that Google is a digital pothole.  But considering the dark side of a digital kingdom is all part of  wearing the crown.  If Google wants to own it, it must take some jabs.

I’ll just keep watch with my virtual trident.


1 Response to "Ga-ga over google"

Thanks for writing about the book. Re read the epilogue. In particular the last few paragraphs…

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