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Hi. Welcome to my new book. Well, it’s not a book yet. In fact, it will not be a real book for a long time.

As you can tell from the title of this blog, the book will be about Google and all they ways that Google is shaking up the world. Google is a transformative and revolutionary company. I hesitate to use terms like that. We live in an era of hyperbole. So I try my best to discount claims of historical transformation or communicative revolutions.

But in the case of Google, I am confident it is both.

Now, I am approaching this book as both a fan and a critic. I am in awe of all that Google has done and all it hopes to do. I am also wary of its ambition and power.

As I use this site to compose the manuscript (an archaic word that I love too much to discard) for the book The Googlization of Everything, I hope to do so with your help.

This is the latest in a series of “open book” experiments hosted and guided by The Institute for the Future of the Book. The Institute has been supportive of my work for years – long before I became affiliated with it as a fellow and certainly long before we thought up this project together. As with the other projects by Ken Wark and Mitch Stephens, this one will depend on reader criticism and feedback to work right. So this is an appeal for help. If you know something about Google, hip me to it. If you have an observation about how it works or how it affects our lives, write to me about it.

On occasion, I will post an open question on this blog. Please help me answer it.

I have never tried to write a book this way. Few have. Writing has been a lonely, selfish pursuit for me so far. I tend to wall myself off from the world (and my loved ones) for days at a time in fits and spurts when I get into a writing groove. I don’t shave. I order pizza. I grumble. I ignore emails from my mother.

I tend to comb through and revise every sentence five or six times (although I am not sure that actually shows up in the quality of my prose). Only when I am sure that I have not embarrassed myself (or when the editor calls to threaten me with a canceled contract – whichever comes first) do I show anyone what I have written. Now, this is not an uncommon process. Closed composition is the default among writers. We go to great lengths to develop trusted networks of readers and other writers with whom we can workshop – or as I prefer to call it because it’s what the jazz musicians do, woodshed our work.

Well, I am going to do my best to woodshed in public. As I compose bits and pieces of work, I will post them here. They might be very brief bits. They might never make it into the manuscript. But they will be up here for you to rip up or smooth over.

That’s the thing. For a number of years now I have made my bones in the intellectual world trumpeting the virtues of openness and the values of connectivity. I was an early proponent of applying “open source” models to scholarship, journalism, and lots of other things.

And, more to the point: One of my key concerns with Google is that it is a black box. Something that means so much to us reveals so little of itself.

So I would be a hypocrite if I wrote this book any other way. This book will not be a black box.

Of course, it could get ugly in here. I could make tremendous mistakes. I could shoot something out there that shuts all doors at Google. I could undermine my ultimate market (but I seriously doubt that I could). I could just write myself into a corner.

In my next post I will share a rough chapter outline. And I will give some sense of the basic questions and major issues that I hope to tackle in this work.

Ok. As Sgt. Phil used to say, “Let’s roll. And let’s be careful out there.”

arrow

Comments (8)

Russell Warner on September 24, 2007 9:24 AM:

I think you're going to find that the act of woodshedding your work for the public will help you to accomplish a more regular writing schedule, and will generally be an encouraging catalyst. I've been regularly publishing my fiction on my blog (www.troped.com) to the point now where a number of people "depend" (apparently) on being able to read new entries. Their enthusiasm (and emails of discontent when I'm not current) have been really great, and I've found that whereas a year ago, my writing was sporadic, I now write almost daily.

> So I try my bet
> selfish pursuit for my so far

squash 'em.

-bowerbird

p.s. and i think your subtitle has
already written you into a corner.

I welcome this experiment and really look forward to reading the book in process. But I'll also jump in with a preliminary (and almost certainly unfair) critique. (We both blog; we're used to such things.)

Like you, I am both a fan and a critic of Google. But given the ominous, red-colored end to your subtitle ("Why We Should Worry"), shouldn't the reader worry that The Googlization of Everything might turn into The Demonization of Everything Google? Will the openness of the writing process be matched by an equally open mind about the positive aspects of Google's rise? I assume from your topic list that the answer is yes, but we readers could use some reassuring since it's all too easy to criticize the behemoths (see countless books on Microsoft in the 1990s).

Thanks again for the launch of this project.

ok, you fixed the second typo i listed,
but not the first. very curious...

-bowerbird

K.G. Schneider on September 27, 2007 9:26 AM:

I don't care what direction your book goes: praise, blame, or a mix of the two, I always like to see you think on the page. This will be fun.

However, I think you task yourself too hard for your writing behavior. It's great that you're working ideas out in public, but I don't see a real parallel between Google's secretive black-box approach (which gets a free ride from major academic libraries--how depressing) and how you write and revise--which is both a process of refining the mechanics of your writing and of working through the ideas. You already think out loud quite a bit, and I am sure it influences your writing.

Besides, it won't be true. You'll put some ideas on this blog and you'll use feedback, but in the end when you are trying to finish The Book, you will snap off the klieg lights, sit alone in a quiet room, and write as you have always written, and when you are done it will be as it has always been: a triumph of that grey stuff between your ears.

Sean Jacobs on October 4, 2007 10:39 AM:

I am curious at your findings as I can't meet an undergraduate student who first go to search academic electronic databases when doing research. It's always Google (and not even google.scholar!) first.
-- Sean

Juju Stevens on October 22, 2007 3:34 PM:

Just read Mixerman; you'll be fine !

Christian Fuchs on March 18, 2008 3:29 AM:

A book on Google is an interesting project. Writing it in a more open way is a nice idea.
I think one must be careful not to argue that only Google or Google's practices are the problem, because they are framed by taking place in an overall economic system. The problem is capitalism, which inherently produces monopoly. Google is an example of an old phenomenon that takes new shapes in cyberspace: monopoly capitalism. So I think Google should be analyzed as an expression of monopoly capitalism.

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A book in progress by

Siva Vaidhyanathan

Siva Vaidhyanathan

This blog, the result of a collaboration between myself and the Institute for the Future of the Book, is dedicated to exploring the process of writing a critical interpretation of the actions and intentions behind the cultural behemoth that is Google, Inc. The book will answer three key questions: What does the world look like through the lens of Google?; How is Google's ubiquity affecting the production and dissemination of knowledge?; and how has the corporation altered the rules and practices that govern other companies, institutions, and states? [more]

» Send links, questions and ideas:
siva [at] googlizationofeverything [dot] com

» To reach me for a press query, please write to SIVAMEDIA ut POBOX dut COM

» To reach me for a speaking invitation, please write to SIVASPEAK ut POBOX dut COM

» Visit my main blog: SIVACRACY.NET

» More about me

Topics

Like the Mind of God (22 posts)

All the World's Information (26 posts)

What If Big Ads Don't Work (10 posts)

Don't Be Evil (9 posts)

Is Google a Library? (43 posts)

Challenging Big Media (18 posts)

The Dossier (19 posts)

Global Google (3 posts)

Google Earth (3 posts)

A Public Utility? (19 posts)

About this Book (16 posts)

Other books by Siva:


Rewiringcover.jpg

Rewiring the Nation: The Place of Technology in American Studies (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007)


The Anarchist in the Library (Basic Books, 2004)


Copyrights and copywrongs cover

Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How it Threatens Creativity (New York University Press, 2001)

Links

  • Sivacracy.net
  • if:book
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