James Harkin, writing for the The Financial Times, has a wrap-up of three new books on search engines, including mine. He suggests that I am too awed by search technologies. Well, as criticism goes, I think that’s fair. Or, to be more exact, I have the feeling that most people are too complacent about the role of search engines, and it is worth thinking about.
Harkin suggests that “Whatever people might think, however, information is not power. Power is power. It is what we do with the information that bubbles up from Google’s algorithm that will clinch the cultural argument.” I’m not sure here, but it sounds like he is partially agreeing with the argument of my book. I argue, however, that we need to not accept what “bubbles up” at face value. Google argues–at least at times–that the algorithm is relatively neutral, and we can decide what we make of its results. It’s hard to know which side of these Harkin falls on, though I suppose it will appear in some form in his own forthcoming book.