Outspoken Google critic to speak at Penn State

March 24, 2008

Cultural historian, media scholar and author Siva Vaidhyanathan will present "The Googlization of Everything," from 10 to 11:30 a.m. April 11 in Foster Auditorium, 101 Pattee Library, University Park. Vaidhyanathan is associate professor of media studies and law at the University of Virginia and is the author of "Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How it Threatens Creativity" (New York University Press, 2001) and "The Anarchist in the Library: How the Clash between Freedom and Control is Hacking the Real World and Crashing the System" (Basic Books, 2004).

His most recent work is as co-editor of "Rewiring the Nation: The Place of Technology in American Studies" (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007). Vaidhyanathan's articles have appeared in many publications, including the Chronicle of Higher Education, the New York Times Magazine and American Scholar, and he is a frequent contributor to National Public Radio and MSNBC.com. He has appeared on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." Vaidhyanathan is a critic of the ongoing Google digitization initiative -- a massive, multi-year project involving the digital scanning of millions titles from the collections of a number of prominent research universities, including Penn State.

"In less than 10 years since the search engine first appeared and spread through word of mouth, Google.com has utterly infiltrated our culture," said Vaidhyanathan. "It is a ubiquitous brand, used as a noun and a verb everywhere from adolescent conversations to scripts for 'Sex and the City.' It puts previously unimaginable resources at our fingertips -- huge libraries, vast archives, eras of government records, troves of goods, the comings and goings of whole swaths of humanity. It is more than the most interesting and successful Internet company of all time. As it catalogs our individual and collective judgments, opinions, and, most importantly, desires, it has grown to be one of the most important global institutions as well. As we shift more of our Internet use to Google-branded services such as GMail and YouTube, Google is on the verge of being indistinguishable from the Internet itself."

Vaidhyanathan said his presentation argues that "'The Googlization of Everything' is a revolutionary phenomenon that will determine the ways both firms and governments act in coming years for -- and at times against -- their users." To understand this phenomenon, he said, users need to realize that they are not Google’s customers, but its product.

This presentation is sponsored by the University Libraries Colloquia Committee and is free to the public. For  information, call Deborah Richner at (814) 863-5448 or e-mail dgr4@psulias.psu.edu.

  • Siva Vaidhyanathan

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 18, 2010