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Are you pondering what I’m pondering?

Alex Christie

27 November 2009

I believe the above quote from the much loved cartoon Pinky and the Brain aptly sums the feelings surrounding the latest case of GoogleGate. The news relating to Google displaying images deemed to be of a racist nature, instantly provoked cries for the public to be better protected against such exposure; Indeed for a company whose revered moto is “don’t be evil”, one would expect a certain degree of regulation.

There is no denying that the image in case was offensive, inappropriate and a very stark reminder about the darker side of human nature. However what is perhaps even more disturbing is the fact, that in light of the reaction to the news, members of the mass media expect Google to act as the thought police for the 21st centaury. Having a search engine that decides the limits of free speech is a worrying notion and one that would have enormous implications. This is perhaps exacerbated by the double standards shown by Google with regards to the compromising stance it adopted with the issue surrounding censorship in China.

Another interesting aspect from the case is the veil of ignorance most of the public are under when it comes to search engines and how Google in particular orders its information. But can the pubic really be blamed when the BBC’s own technology correspondent can make statements like: -

“But it basically boils down to the fact that the more people click on a certain site, the higher up the list it comes.”

I’m not saying everyone should be an expert in search or data collection, but its worth bearing in mind that although Google is most certainly one of the wonders of the digital age, the results can sometimes be as fallible as the people that created them. So much like Pinky and the Brain the search behemoth will have to wait a little longer before it truly takes over the world..

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