edited by Konrad Becker and Felix Stalder – Deep Search: The Politics of Search Beyond Google

edited by Konrad Becker and Felix Stalder

Studienverlag & Transaction Publishers, ISBN 978-3706547956, Austria, 2009, English
The centrality of search engines in everyday lives has recently been focused on by different institutions involved in the critical analysis of Internet culture. Among them are the Institute of Network Cultures in Amsterdam, and the World-Information Institute in Vienna that organized the Deep Search conference, whose texts are collected in this book. Some crucial questions were tackled concerning the digital retrieval of information, some of the most relevant being: accessibility to information, the politics of archiving and the redefinition of knowledge. These universal issues are explored in more than a dozen contributions that try to face both the potential and the dangers in searching the enormous amount of online information, relying, at the same time on private corporations and their internal organization and filtering criteria. The (more or less) monopoly of Google is not the only concern in this situation, but just only one aspect of how we fulfill the very basic need to find out about something nowadays. These problems are not entirely new, as Robert Darnton proves through his rigorous historical research, finding different moments in the past when the information retrieval systems became important in the way they are now. “Power” is also a direct consequence of the ownership of information ranking and sorting systems. So the “reranking” idea formulated by Bernhard Rieder (the ability to independently make a different ranking) could be both pragmatic and potentially subversive. Because, as the editors say, “what cannot be found does not exist.”