Monday, April 23, 2012

Pawns in this virtual chess game

Dear James Gleick,

Your article "How Google Dominates Us" sheds lights on some real world concerns people have regarding the power that online companies, in this specific case Google, have in our society. Google is constantly looking for ways to improve itself, but at what cost will these improvements come? The way you have described Google in your article makes it seem as if the company will in a sense, take on a mind of its own. It seems everything Google aims to do would require it to breach a certain level of privacy among its users. I use the word breach lightly because Google is not exactly obtaining private information (at least that we know of). Rather, they are using the information made public to them to personalize Google towards individual users. Their advertising campaign sheds a little light onto this, when they have set up Google so that certain advertisements are ran on a person's computer depending on which keywords that person has searched. Again, there is no legitimate breach of information here. Rather, it just showcasing one of the many ways Google is incorporating itself into the everyday life of the average person and how they are subconsciously taking over the world of search engines. The fear of Google becoming trying TOO hard and ending up making changes that we unwelcome is a very real possibility. In her article "Ourspace," Christine Harold uses the example of MySpace and how "the greatest fear among MySpace members seemed to have been that Murdoch (the owner), much like a grandpa showing up and killing a good party, would start softening the edges that made MySpace so popular among the cool crowd in the first place." I can see this very easily being the case with Google, and I think their development team must tread carefully when moving forward with their improvements so as to not try TOO hard and negatively effect the company as a whole.

Josh Brooks

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