“JUST GOOGLE IT!”The Google Algorithm as a KnowledgeProducerAgnes Mei Morrison, ARIN6912, 3/22/2012
“The Algorithm”• Information on the web expanding too fast to be indexed by humans• The algorithm‟s results should not be touched by human intervention• Automated processes authority, legitimacy• Google News • Ineffective because news is dynamic; the algorithm cannot seek out patterns effectively, skewing rankings• Google Translate • Effective because language is more static than news; the algorithm has time to recognize patterns and learn
Objectivity?• Dominance in terms of both functionality and reach• Association with objectivity and science• “Objective rationality of science” (D‟Andrade, Spiro) is a false construction http://www.websalad.com.au/wp- content/uploads/google-quality-score.png
Sociocultural Impacts of Google‟sDominance• Googling synonymous with search• Paradigm shift from knowledge possession digital literacy (Pew study, Rheingold)• Limits access to information when http://images.theage.com.au/2011/12/18/2846921/ completeness assumed TAH_google_LW_151011_2011121819453274144 1-420x0.jpg• SEO as a field
Google Scholar • Algorithm ranks academic articles • Articles quantitatively weighted • Based primarily on citations • Is this the most valid http://metarand.com/wp- procedure for treating content/uploads/2009/11/Google-Scholar- 300x211.jpg scholarly articles?
How Scholar Impacts KnowledgeProduction• “First page limitation”; people may not seek out information that is not highly ranked• Lack of transparency/ disclosure (van Djick) • Google does not have access to all academic journals and sources; people may assume completeness though • Google does not publicize their policies on updating information on Scholar• Google Scholar as a supernode (Castells) encourages users to go through it instead of directly to academic journal websites• Self-reflexive awareness of algorithmic biases and processes is critical to producing effective scholarship
Resources I• Science’s cultural positioning• D‟Andrade, R. (1995), „Moral Models in Anthropology‟, Current Anthropology 36(3): 399- 408.• D‟Andrade is critical of postmodern critiques of science but effectively and efficiently summarizes them.• Latour, B. (1983), „Give Me a Laboratory and I Will Raise the World,‟ in Karin D. Knorr-Cetina and Michael Mulkay eds., Science Observed: Perspectives on the Social Study of Science. London: Sage Publications.•• Digital literacy• Andersen, J. and Rainie, L. (2012), Millenials Will Benefit and Suffer Due to their Hyperconnected Lives [online], available at < http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Hyperconnected-lives.aspx>• Jones, J. (2011), „Howard Rheingold: Understanding Search Algorithms‟, Public Intelligence Blog, [blog] 8 December, Available at: < http://www.phibetaiota.net/2011/12/howard- rheingold-understanding-search-algorithms> [Accessed 22 March 2012]• Rheingold, H. (2011), Adora Svitak: A 12 Year Old on Digital Literacy, online video, accessed 22 March 2012, <http://vlog.rheingold.com>.• Rheingold has a conversation with a young woman about digital literacies, describing his own theories of the five digital literacies (attention, participation, credibility [assessment of the veracity of information online], collaboration, network awareness).
Resources II• Networks and power• Castells, M. (2005), „Communication, Power and Counter-Power in the Network Society‟, International Journal of Communication 1: 238- 266.• Castells, M. (2009), Communication Power. London: Oxford University Press.•• Interrogating the search engine• Adlington, J. and Benda, C. (2005), „Checking Under the Hood: Evaluating Google Scholar for Reference Use‟, Internet Reference Services Quarterly 10(3/4): 135- 148.• Cathcart, R. and Roberts, A. (2005), „Evaluating Google Scholar as a Tool for Information Literacy‟, Internet Reference Services Quarterly 10(3/4): 167- 176.• Van Dijck, J. (2010), „Search Engines and the Production of Academic Knowledge‟, International Journal of Cultural Studies 13(6): 574- 592.• Hargittai, E. (2007), „The Social, Political, Economic and Cultural Dimensions of Search Engines: An Introduction‟, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 12(3): 769- 777.• Taylor, S. (2007), „Google Scholar—Friend or Foe?‟, Interlending and Document Supply 35(1): 4-6.