Google Effect

We need to find structural ways to push our students back into libraries to discover the value of wandering up the corridors of monographs and journals stacks. (p.164)

I am reading this paper by Tara Brabazon on the Google Effect (Brabazon, 2006) and I am again liking my topic. I have been questioning myself whether I’m trying to answer something that is known widely. I mean, we all know that we all Google. We all know Googling for anything and everything is commonplace. We know Google has become our number one search engine.

What we don’t know is the danger of falling into the trap of thinking that Google offers us all the answers. It does of course, at varying degrees. But the user need to be intelligent enough to sift through what it offers. And again, I think that is also common knowledge. Or is it? Does everyone really know the extent of rigor of the information we find through Google? Does everyone understand the importance of scholarly literature? And do everyone understand that scholarly literature (the rigor of it) requires some process, human effort, as such cannot be made freely available? Traditionally, libraries have been bearing the burden of that cost of subscribing to journals for the common good of their clients.

For now, I will park those questions and proceed to quote from this paper (p. 58).

… While called “peer production,” it is really peer-less production, where mediocre, banal and often irrelevant facts are given an emphasis and interpretation which extends beyond the credibility of scholarly literature. The ideology of Wikipedia assumes that if more people are involved in the process of writing entries, then their accuracy will increase. Popularity and participation inevitably determines truth. This justification of mediocrity through popularity is part of what I call the Google Effect, the notion that the popularity of ‘hits’ determines the relevance of the results. Ironically the assumption that collaboration must inevitably result in progress and improvement in the quality of information has been described by Wikipedia editors as a “social Darwinian evolutionary process” (Scoboda n.d.). The notion that Social Darwinism can be cited as a political justification of digital selection without awareness of its historical passage through colonialism, Eugenics and fascism merely confirms the necessity for refereeing and accredited peer review.

Brabazon, T. (2006) The Google Effect: Googling, Blogging, Wikis and the Flattening of Expertise. Libri, vol 56. pp. 157-167.

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Published by

aminath

I write as I think. I think as I write.

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