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Google as a Philosophical Machine

Google as a Philosophical Machine

There seems to be a reoccurring theme of coincidence in events I randomly attend which have direct relevance to whatever it is I am reading at any given time. I have no current academic affiliation, however always look out for lectures , talks or academic events which might help me keep my middle-ageing and party polluted mind awake and sprightly.

I attend a talk/lecture usually randomly as they have to be open to the public, and free. Something clicks half way through and I spend much of the talk/lecture trying to use recall in my brain to remember why a text I have read has such relevance and how this can help me or whoever have further insights.

Yesterday I attended Pip Thorntons talk at NUIG on her current Phd 'A Critique of Linguistic Capitalism'. Pretty illuminating stuff on the ins and outs of google ad words, adsense and the value of words independent of their context in the system of linguistic capitalism which has developed though google and the internet. Having recently read Boris Groys 2016 book In the Flow it took me half way through the talk to locate the brain cell which held some of the information, then pluck up the courage to mention it in the questions at the end. Worrying my half remembered interpretation of the chapter concerned was actually a valid interpretation, along with the usual imposter syndrome, and of course starting with the sentence "I don't have a background in (insert academic field of study here) but...." cue shaky voice, a squirm and a feeling of dislocation from the words I am saying, like some sort of embodiment of someone else who knows what she is talking about.

Luckily this time the words and my point came out in order and reasonably coherent, Thornton wrote it down, I tweeted her the article after and she said it was wonderful. This feels good, because the article is wonderful, and so relevant to her reasearch, so the whole lot of it is wonderful, free knowledge transfer. It is still free to exchange spoken words, thank god x There is always that moment at the end of one of these lectures when they say 'anyone for any questions' and there is this concrete block of silence, usually the organiser fills it in, and then I just get so ANXIOUS no one is going to ask a question of any relevance which might give the impression no one is either engaged or interested. So I talk. I think there are a few of us doing the rounds, the ones who just cant bear a lack of discursive interaction with someone who has obviously worked so hard on their research and presentation.

Pip Thorntons work is a mixture of scary insights on the economy of singular words in internet searches, the birth of 'fake news' and the way ads show in google, the way google track emails and searches to better target you for products, and how often google gets it wrong, but it doesn't care because it is algorithm led non human despot who has dislocated language context and turned language into one big word cloud with a price on every word. FAB. Her use of Rita Ann Higgins amazing poem on Galway 20/20, run it through adwords auction costings and print out a receipt of how much the poem is worth was fun and illuminating of her point. Every word has a price, every singular word out of context has a price, and it is surprising which words demand most worth on the www.

Pips blog can be found here.

The text by Boris Groys can be found here. Such a beautifully written text on google. I highly recommend his book In The Flow I have recently purchased his latest book on On The New. I have no idea what it is about. Something to look forward to as I am waiting for something to happen in life, new.

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