Team 5 Synthesis

Our discussion today covered chapters 3-5 of The Googlization of Everything. Since there were three members of the group, we each covered one chapter—mine was chapter four. As a group, we tried to progress in order through the chapters to keep things organized and sensible for the discussion. Before the class discussion today I was excited at how many responses I received to my two questions that I posed. Because of the thoughtful responses I received, I tried to revisit these ideas in class with further questions and points about the topics from chapter four. The two questions I initially asked dealt with the impact of being “searchable” on Google, and with the idea of censorship in both America and other countries. I think the class definitely enjoyed contributing to the idea of “searchability” more than censorship. A lot of students added opinions about the effectiveness of companies or businesses that do not market themselves through technology, as opposed to those that do. These topics were really interesting because they relate so well to Vaidhyanathan’s ideas about the prominence of Google in the world. While the questions about censorship did not promote as much excitement and discussion among the class, things definitely picked up with Kyle’s questions about chapter five that dealt with the digitization of books. I think something that I learned from this class discussion—as well as all the other group discussions that have already gone—is that we all love to talk about the current topics that directly affect us. While our group did its best to create questions from each chapter, the most conversation was stimulated from the chapters that dealt with matters that students feel strongly about. A lot of points and opinions were brought up today about the most “interesting” current topics in today’s world—privacy, impact of "searchablility", and the digitization of literature.

-Hailey Watkins

As we have seen throughout the entire semester, our class likes to discuss. However, there are certain topics that elicit much more of a response than others. In preparing for our presentation, as Hailey mentioned above we were each put in charge of a chapter, however, we did not know which topics out of the three people would be more engaging for the class. I believe the issues that people were most opinionated about were the pros and cons of being searchable on Google and the Googlization of books. Which as I mentioned at the end of class, we probably should have known that was going to be a stimulating topic, we are all English majors after all. I found it interesting to see a number of people on either end of the issues, either giving benefits or negations for it.
Another issue that we talked about was the idea of “privacy,” which was the key word for the reading that I was in charge of, chapter three. It was also the topic for my second question that was posted to the Wiki, and got a fair number of responses. I felt that both on the online forum, and in the discussion during the presentation that the idea of privacy was very individualized. It seemed almost everyone had a specific idea of what privacy looked like for them and their daily functions. . I mentioned this just in passing during the presentation, but I disagree with Vaidhyanathan’s reading of Foucault in the idea of privacy. Vaidhyanathan seems to say that even though we know the “gaze” is there, or could be there, we don’t change our behavior and we don’t seem to care. I not only disagree that we do at least alter our behavior in some way in the gaze of the internet, but that he seems to leave out the systems of power relations that Foucault argues that shape our behavior. I didn’t want to get too into this, but it would be interesting to read “The Subject and Power,” and think about the internet in relation to it, which I had not really thought of until this reading.

-Shelby Ward

Our discussion revolved heavily on the issue of online privacy and how it differs (and how perhaps it shouldn’t) from the real world. We came to more or less a general consensus that the images captured by Google’s Maps cars are not any more invasive than a person walking down the street. In a way, maybe the internet is just a metaphor for a really busy street. Any act committed (whether embarrassing or not) could be witnessed by anyone there at the time, so why should the idea of Google Maps argue any differently? We generally decided that it shouldn’t.

Another point of interest, that was reached close to the end of class, is the digitization of books. The argument in favor suggested that a searchable, free access to all of the print ever circulated would exponentially increase the “collective knowledge” available to every connected person. The idea that any person could access and learn from any document ever (or, potentially, any number of them concurrently) gives optimism for the collective building of knowledge.

The argument against mainly concerned the rights of authors. Paid online content is very publicly difficult to keep out of the hands of those who want it for free. That can be a real pain for the person who wrote it under current copyright law, and under our current system of author compensation. The Googlization of Everything suggests that the likely workaround for this issue (and what seems like the only one) is a reworking of the copyright system. In its current form, it works well for print, but is hugely unacceptable for online content.

- Kyle Zalewski