Be afraid of Google?

On: October 31, 2010
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About Mathijs Voordenberg
I’m Mathijs, a student New Media at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). In 2009 I finished my bachelor Media and Culture at the University of Amsterdam with a thesis about the public sphere of Youtube. In 2009-2010 I worked as vice-president of the Amsterdam student union (ASVA), As vice-president I was responsible for the human resource, the promotion and a couple of projects among which the election of the teacher of the year at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam (the Amsterdam university of applied science). Next to my study I work as freelance photographer and filmmaker.


A week ago I went to a lecture about The Googlization of the Global street by Siva Vaidhyanathan. The lecture was at “de Balie” and organized by Open. With Googlization Siva mean the process of being processed rendered and represented by Google. And the more we use Google the more Google knows about us.

The main question of this lecture was how Google complicate our privacy. According to Vaidhyanathan Google complicate the way we manage our reputations in three ways:

  • Google records our desire
  • Google makes info about us available
  • Google actively captures images

And, concluded Vaidhyanathan, it’s hard to do something about it. First we have to know whats going on, than we have to care about it, we have to search, to know what we can do about it, and than we have to decide to act upon it. So as result, only the elite and proficient are able to opt out. It was a really interesting lecture and Siva Vaidhaynathan definitely has a point. On this moment we mostly take the benefits of Google but that may change. For now Google don’t have to abuse our privacy because they making enough money without doing it. But what will Google do when the economical pressure grows?

According to Sean Parker new economic value on the internet will not generated by search and Googles power will relatively decline. But if this becomes true, what does this mean for the way Google will treat our data? Everyone knows our personal information is worth a lot, so is in that case our privacy still save in Googles hands? Of course no one can predict the future so it’s impossible to answer that question but it’s good to keep a critical point of view and be aware of the possible dangers. But that’s, as Vaidhayanathan point out, only reserved to the elite and proficient.

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