Existential Google-Angst UPDATE!

A quick update to my blog earlier today

I wanted to put into context what I’ve talking about in terms of not ‘existing’ on the web. As I said before, I know Google ‘is not the internet’, but it does seem like it sometimes.

To show this I created a Gmail account (as a Guest User on my laptop), and then created a WordPress blog. Because I had a Gmail account I was able to ‘submit my URL’ to Google and low and behold the blog was instantly indexed.

imoverherephotoIt has now been a week since I created Linguistic Geographies, yet because I won’t link it to a Gmail account, it remains in limbo – visible to those who link directly to it from other blogs or from my Twitter feed, but fundamentally unsearchable. To put it metaphorically: the library has stocked my book, but won’t let anyone find it unless they’ve already been told what shelf it is on. Jorge Luis Borges put the frustrations of this ‘Library of Babel‘ dilemma very eloquently (and very presciently) all the way back in 1941:

“When it was proclaimed that the Library contained all books, the first impression was one of extravagant happiness. All men felt themselves to be the masters of an intact and secret treasure. There was no personal or world problem whose eloquent solution did not exist in some hexagon… As was natural, this inordinate hope was followed by an excessive depression. The certitude that some shelf in some hexagon held precious books and that these precious books were inaccessible seemed almost intolerable”

(Borges, Labyrinths: 1964)

But there is another fundamental question here which I will at some stage have to address: Why should I expect to be indexed by Google if I’m not prepared to pay for the privilege? By ‘paying’, I am of course refering to Google using my logged-in search data and email traffic to generate income from advertisers, a stream of revenue based largely on the commodification of language. Unfortunately with Google, it seems that if I don’t want my words commodified, I can’t get them seen either.


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