This is my final week in the Digital Humanities course. We have a research paper due April 15th and I will most likely publish my paper here once it’s complete, but for now, this will be my last post. I hope you’ve enjoyed my weekly musings as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.
This week, we’ve been asked to consider the concept of “googleization.” More specifically, what does the “googleization of everything” mean? Should we worry about this?
As I sit here writing my response, my Grade 12 students are working off of one Google doc to prep for their upcoming exams. They’ve created a chart reflecting the plays we’ve studied in class and are all actively filling in the cells whilst discussing the practice essay question I’ve given them. At one point, I actually said to them, “You know, when I was in high school, this just didn’t exist. Group work meant everyone writing on a separate sheet of paper and then one person collating the whole thing either by photocopying or making a poster. Laaaame!” They laughed, but I’m not sure they understood what life was truly like before the Internet, or indeed, before Google.
The “googleization” of everything has meant tremendous things to me as a teacher. It means I no longer have to buy lesson plans book from the local teachers’ store; I can now Google what I want: unit plan for Cosi – Louis Nowra; themes within Death of a Salesman – Miller; influence of the supernatural – Macbeth. You get the picture. These are all searches I have used in the past. Sometimes I get hundreds if not thousands of results; other times, I have to refine my search a little more closely.
The googleization of our lives is not just limited to docs and searches; personally, I use Google calendar, Gmail, Google Keep, and Google Hangouts. If Google has it, I want to try it. You only have to look so far as Wikipedia to see all the different products Google has to offer. Whether you are a corporation, an educator, a student, or a small-business owner, Google has pretty much everything you need.
Now, the second part of this week’s question asks if we should be worried about the googleization of everything. Well, I’m afraid the answer is yes. Some of this comes down to the question of ethics (remember weeks 4 and 5?). By searching for information online, we leave ourselves open to copying (I won’t say stealing) the information of others. It’s one thing if we give the original author proper citation, but what if we forget? Now we have pilfered the intellectual property of someone else and passed it off as our own.
What about our personal use? Every time we order something from Amazon or other online stores, Google stores our financial information. “Would you like Google to save your password? Your address? Your credit card number?” How many of us click “yes”? (hands up over here)
It’s true; we often do this without thinking of the implications of our information floating around in the Google cloud. What does that even mean??
While I do believe that we can be more cautious in the way we use our information online, I don’t believe we need to be overly worried to the point where we revert back to an Internet-less life (I am a child of the 70’s and 80’s … I remember this time very well). We just need to be careful. We need to be wary of the information we put online. We need to be mindful of what we do and how we do it.
Really, we should Google the best way to approach this going forward …