Google MeOne-Click Democracy

Google MeOne-Click Democracy

Barbara Cassin

Print publication date: 2018

ISBN: 9780823278060

Publisher: Fordham University Press

Abstract

In this witty and openly polemical critique of Google, Barbara Cassin looks at Google’s claims to organize knowledge, and its alleged ethical basis, through a reading of its two founding principles: “Our mission is to organize the world’s information” and “Don’t be evil”. Cassin is a formidable Hellenist by training, and in Google-Me she uses her profound knowledge of Greek culture, philology and philosophy (and of the history of philosophy more broadly) to challenge the basis on which Google makes its claims and the manner in which it carries out its operations. The perspective it presents on Google is anything but drily philological, densely philosophical, or academic in its tone, but it offers us an entertaining account of its origins and history up until 2007. We would all be well-advised to take this critique seriously, since it goes to the heart of what we often think of rather uncritically as the benefits to humanity of increasingly advanced internet technology. As Cassin puts it toward the end, “Google is a champion of cultural democracy, but without culture and without democracy.” Published originally in French in 2007, Cassin’s book is translated into English for the first time by Michael Syrotinski, and includes a co-authored and updated afterword by Cassin and Syrotinski.