Sunday, February 7, 2010

Week #5 - In Google We Trust

Nicholas Carr's article and Michael Wesch's video bring up what I feel are some very real concerns about the internet and highlights what I think are some problems that, while foreseeable by some, will greatly go unnoticed and thus untreated, resulting in a vast and potentially harmful change in the way that humanity thinks, learns, and lives. Though, that may be an over-reaction.

While I don't think that the founders of Google actually harbor any "evil-plot" to diminish humankind's thinking capacity to the point of slavery to technology, it can't be denied that that could be a possible scenario if we are fed these changes without instruction on how to use them. As it is now, most of the sites that many of us frequent every day use and study us to tell their developers how to better make them for use to use them. Now if that statement seems a little circular and confusing to you, you would be right on the dot. While all of the algorithms that sites like facebook and google and yahoo use are very carefully thought out to help their developers better understand how you use their sites, they lack one of the most crucial elements of scientific study - an observer that has the ability to interpret the data (as it is they just report the data). And when you base changes that are aimed to make a site more integrated and aimed to better serve the person using it on data rather than on findings (interpreted data) you will of course change how that site is used. The problem doesn't solely lie in that aspect though. The real problem with this is that it inevitably changes the way that the site is interacted with and how it can be used to achieve the desired result - and because google controls how the majority of the world gets its information, these changes alter the way that the world can access information. If one of these alterings changes things in a way that hinders how we get information and doesn't get fixed, it can leave us at a loss and less capable to do what we need.

Moving away from the gloom and doom type of post and onto the synergies that have poped up all over the web...

I spoke to this point I think the second week of the semester. I have a blog (now two) and a flickr and a twitter and a youtube that every time I update goes to my facebook to tell all the people that care (like five of them) and beyond that if I find something that i like on the web I can just share the link over my facebook. I think that this is a good thing however, and not detrimental like some of the outlooks expressed by our readings this week. I think that there will always be people that don't use the technology to the fullest or in the correct way, but I think that when one knows how to use the internet's resources, they can really make the whole experience very multimodal/multimedial and the result is often more than the sum of its parts.



  1. I agree with your thoughts on people using the internet to it's fullest potential, although it would be difficult define a "correct way" to use a site. I think that the fate of the success of the internet and the direction that it pushes humanity will depend heavily on the amount of weight we place upon educating people of how to best utilize this tool. A hammer and chisel can be used to construct a great work or they can be used to break and destroy, depending on the intentions and knowledge of the hands that hold them. The same goes for the internet.

  2. You were talking about the complex algorithms of sites like facebook and google.. Well I have a little bit of a different take on that. Though sites like google and facebook may have been founded on fundamentals of basic communication and research, they have become billion dollar money making machines. All those algorithms and "the careful developers" are working to get information from us in order to advertise and make money off of us. Number one example is when my ex and I broke up, I had changed my facebook status to single. Within a couple of days, tens of dating website ads started to pop up. We are living in a capitalist country and in the end it all ties back to money and profiteering.

  3. "While I don't think that the founders of Google actually harbor any "evil-plot" to diminish humankind's thinking capacity..."

    Of course, that's just what they want you to think! Good, provocative comments (and responses) here.