Google and its power in shaping human knowledge
Keywords:Google, Internet search engines, Foucault, power, knowledge
The process of information searching has been reshaped and constantly changed in this digital age. At present, people information searching practices rely heavily upon Internet search engines. Drawing upon Foucault’s Concept of Power/Knowledge, this research study has provided insights into the new phenomenon of power in the age of Google. It firstly explores how search engines work, how page ranking operates, how search results are listed as well as analyses its power in shaping knowledge outcomes. The argument of this paper is that in the field of power represented by Google there is room for agency and choice. If Internet users exercise their own power in searching for information, the Internet users themselves can systematise their own search strategies. They can be certain of their ability to decide whether to trust information they found on the Internet. According to Foucauldian analysis, power is a relationship between search engines and Internet users. In this power relationship, the actions of the Internet users are very important. Therefore, Internet users should actively play a leading action in producing and exercising their own power. To achieve this power, information literacy is imperative. Internet users have to critically analyse and skeptically evaluate the online information they found and incorporate selected information into their knowledge base and value system. If this happens, a search engine will not occupy all the search space, yet all of the users will own their power in shaping the knowledge outcomes in this digital age.
Brabazon, T. (2012). The University of Google: Education in the [post] Information Age. Burlington, VT, USA: Ashgate Publishing.
Brophy, P, Fisher, S, Jones, C. R., & Markland, M. (2004). EDNER: Final Report. Retrieved 3 July, 2012, from www.cerlim.ac.uk/edner/dissem/edner-final.doc
Croft, W. B., Metzler, D., & Strohman, T. (2010). Search engines: Information retrieval in practice. Reading, UK: Addison-Wesley.
Fallows, D. (2005). Search Engine Users. Retrieved 15 March, 2014, from http://www.pewinternet.org/2005/01/23/search-engine-users/
Foucault, M. (1978). The History of Sexuality, Volume I: An Introduction, Translated from the French by Robert Hurley. New York, USA: Pantheon Books.
Foucault, M. (1980). Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings. New York, USA: Pantheon.
Griffiths, J. (2002). How Students Search: Information Seeking and Electronic Resource Use (Vol. Issues Paper 8): Formative Evaluation of the Distributed National Electronic Resource Project (EDNER).
Höchstötter, N., & Lewandowski, D. (2009). What Users See-Structures in Search Engine Results Pages. Information Sciences, 179(2), 1796-1812.
Introna, L. D., & Nissenbaum, H. (2000). Shaping the Web: Why the Politics of Search Engines Matters. The Information Society, 16(3), 169-185.
iProspect. (2008). iProspect Blended Search Results Study. http://www.iprospect.com/about/researchstudy_2008_blendedsearchresults.htm
Jager, S. (2001). Discourse and Knowledge: Theoretical and Methodological Aspects of a Critical Discourse and Dispositive Analysis. In R. Wodak & M. Meyer (Eds.), Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis (pp. 32-62). London, England: SAGE Publications.
Jarutas, P. (2014). Trustworthiness of Web Information Evaluation Framework. (Doctoral Thesis, University of Southampton, England).
Jeanneney, J.-N. (2007). Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge. Chicago; London, England: The University of Chicago Press.
Lustig, N. F. (2014). Rereading foucault on technology, variegation, and contemporary power. Retrieved 5 April, 2015, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1609020328?accountid=8488
Luther, J. (2003). Trumping Google? Metasearching’s Promise. Library Journal, 128(16), 36-39.
Machill, M., Neuberger, C, Schweiger, W., & Wirth, W. (2004). Navigating the Internet: A Study of German-Language Search Engines. European Journal of Communication, 19(3), 321-347.
Mann, T. (1993). Library Research Models. New York, USA: Oxford University Press.
Marable, L. (2003). False Oracles: Consumer Reaction to Learning the Truth about How Search Engines Work, Results of an Ethnographic Study Consumer WebWatch (pp. 1-66).
Marvin, G. (2014). The 10 Most Important Paid Search Developments So Far in 2014. Retrieved 29 December, 2014, from http://searchengineland.com/10-paid-search-developments-2014-195447
McCullagh, D. (2011). Testing Google's Panda algorithm: CNET analysis. Retrieved 30 December, 2014, from http://www.cnet.com/news/testing-googles-panda-algorithm-cnet-analysis/
Miller, J. B. (2014). Internet Technologies and Information Services. California, USA: ABC-CLIO.
Mills, S. (2013). Michel Foucault. London; New York: Routledge.
Pan, B., Hembrooke, H. A., Joachims, T., Lorigo, L., Gay, G. K., & Granka, L. A. (2007). In Google We Trust: Users' Decisions on Rank, Position, and Relevance. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12, 801-823.
Pan, B. (2015). The power of search engine ranking for tourist destinations. Tourism Management, 47, 79-87. DOI: 10.1016/j.tourman.2014.08.015
Rouse, J. (2005). Power/Knowledge. In G. Gutting (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Foucault (pp. 95-122). New York, USA: Cambridge University Press.
Tsai, M. J., Liang, J. C., Hou, H. T. & Tsai, C. C. (2012). University students' online information searching strategies in different search contexts. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 28(5), 881-895.
Urquhart, C, & Rowley, J. (2007). Understanding Student Information Behaviour in Relation to Electronic Information Services: Lessons from Longitudinal Monitoring and Evaluation, Part 2. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 58(8), 1188-1197.
Van Dijck, J. (2010). Search engines and the production of academic knowledge. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 13, 6574-6592
Witten, I. H., Gori, M., & Numerico, T. (2010). Web Dragons: Inside the Myths of Search Engine Technology. San Francisco, USA: Elsevier.
worldwidewebsize.com, www. (2015). The size of the World Wide Web (The Internet). Retrieved 12 May, 2015, from http://www.worldwidewebsize.com/
Xing, B. (2006). Internet Search Engine Result Diversity, Relevance, Quality, and the Effects of Search Engine Optimasation. (Ph.D’s Thesis, Texas Tech University, USA).
Zipf, G. K. (1949). Human Behaviour and the Principle of Least Effort: An Introduction of Human Ecology. Cambridge, England: Addison-Wesley.
How to Cite
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.