Krishnendu Chaudhury spoke recently on behalf of Google at the University of Michigan. Chaudhury outlined affiliations with the University of Michigan in the Google Books project and when questions arose about the general fate of newspapers, he surprised the audience. An individual remarked that this town, meaning Ann Arbor, used to have a newspaper. Perhaps, the comment was made nonchalantly, but it still raises the question of the past transformation of media dissemination. Not-so-suprisingly, the media cohorts present at the industry who were once equipped for that platform of representation had potentially lingering resentment in how the issue was treated. They suggested that Google return to the public library to continue with archival scanning.
As reported by Search Engine Land in May 2011, the decision of the organization to stop scanning the archival material was interpreted as a neutral instance. Google returned the material to the original partner, Boston Phoenix, including copies of the scans. The evolution of Search Engine Land, incidentally, reflects a turn in media that suggests it is embracing the transition albeit warily. Like no other news organization, however, Google has grappled with interesting challenges. Google has circulation wars, users can experience Google bombing, and all of this Internet socialization exists in a covert lens. Occasionally, it is tempting to imagine that Google was founded as an organization that sought to dapple in Institutional Critique.
Institutional Critique, or the field of visual art that arose in the '80s, suggested that you could view a monolithic organization within a new context in order to demystify the the entity. Andrea Fraser was one performance artist who generated considerable interest. She created the film, "Museum Highlights," that pantomimed the relationship between the museum and the spectator. The film, despite the controversy, ended up becoming an important dialog in art history. Art history is filled with such instances of individuals helping to create the idea that an institution contains an image, which can be modified with time and innovation.
An institution has a narrative and, as with the protests in the Occupy Movements across the country, the creation of the social networking cite Diaspora, and the ability of us to engage remotely, its important that in our excitement to broach new horizons, we don't destroy the existing bridges of communication. The individuals in my class on conceptualism, for instance, suggested that conceptual art can be annoying. For the twelve or twenty or so individuals taking notes, there are connections between print media and modernity. There is writing that embraces non-negotiable spaces, such as transcript, Sprawl, Dies, The Inkblot Records, and other literary works.
Recommended reading aside, the talk with Google was fascinating. Chaudhury detailed that Google is capable of tracking the archives in vertical graphs. The way he described vertical graphs is similar to the aspects of literature discussed in the post-structural movement. Language acquired horizontal and vertical planes of interpretation. For instance, metaphors in a text could be unlocked and applied to planes of interpretation. If this comparison sounds mathematical, it is inherently so.
For what Chaudhury noted was the way that the data being scanned is like snapshots of large volumes of information. The language becomes contained data. The data is interpreted in a graph and viewed by technicians who catalog the material. They can see gaps, for instance, in the years being scanned.
On a metaphorical and literal level, what does it mean if our intake of history is delimited to that available within this one process of interpretation? In this one snapshot of history, do we compute that something is missing? How different, truly, is this from understanding whether 3 gigs of information represent the public as aptly as the press? How different is this from the arguments that characterized the Industrial Revolution? What rights or concerns does the digital humanities have for projects of this nature? How does the public feel about crawling?
I would like to hear some stories about Google. Please leave in the comments section. Spambots, trickery, and artisanship encouraged but subject to critique.