“How Google Dominates Us”

James Gleick’s The Information was one of the more interestisng books I’ve read this year. And this piece in the New York Review of Books he talks about “How Google Dominates Us. A few of my favorites:

  • “The business of finding facts has been an important gear in the workings of human knowledge, and the technology has just been upgraded from rubber band to nuclear reactor.”
  • “When (we) say Google “possesses” all this information, that’s not the same as owning it. What it means to own information is very much in flux.”
  • “(Google has) been relentless in driving computer science forward. Google Translate has achieved more in machine translation than the rest of the world’s artificial intelligence experts combined.”
  • “The merchandise of the information economy is not information; it is attention. These commodities have an inverse relationship. When information is cheap, attention becomes expensive. Attention is what we, the users, give to Google, and our attention is what Google sells—concentrated, focused, and crystallized.”
  • “Google makes more from advertising than all the nation’s newspapers combined”
  • “The perfect search engine, as Sergey and Larry imagine it, reads your mind and produces the answer you want. The perfect advertising engine does the same: it shows you the ads you want. Anything else wastes your attention, the advertiser’s money, and the world’s bandwidth.”

Almost every article about Google worries about the potential danger of someone having so much information about us. And yet, few seem concerned about how much power, information and control governments have over us. I’ll trust Larry and Sergey over any politician that has come along in my lifetime.