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Google Me: One-Click Democracy

Barbara Cassin

“Google is a champion of cultural democracy, but without culture and without democracy.” In this witty and polemical critique the philosopher Barbara Cassin takes aim at Google and our culture of big data. Enlisting her formidable knowledge of the rhetorical tradition, Cassin demolishes the Google myth of a “good” tech company and its “democracy of clicks,” laying bare the philosophical poverty and political naiveté that underwrites its founding slogans: “Organize the world’s information,” and “Don’t be evil.” For Cassin, this conjunction of globalizing knowledge and moral imperative is frighteningly similar to the way American demagogues justify their own universalizing mission before the world.

While sensitive to the possibilities of technology and to Google’s playful appeal, Cassin shows what is lost when a narrow worship of information becomes dogma, such that research comes to mean data mining and other languages become provincial “flavors” folded into an impoverished Globish, or global English.