Informit article: Abstract and control: Twenty years of google

While selected articles are available in full on this website, all Arena Quarterly, Arena Magazine and Arena Journal articles are available for purchase in PDF format from Informit.


The third in a series of articles in Google’s twentieth-anniversary year

The story of Google is a telling case study in the analysis of contemporary society, reorganised as it has been by the mutations of cybernetic capitalism. The company’s history has been one of deep enthralment with technology, typically cast in naive ‘how-cool-is-that’ terms – it is a story peppered with geeky tropes and various vacuous watchwords like ‘innovation’, ‘entrepreneurial’ and, of course, lots and lots of ‘growth’. In addition to its remarkable ability to extract wealth and accumulate power, Google has, from the beginning, had extraordinary ambition. This was evident back in 1998 when the co-founders formulated the fledgling company’s mission statement: to ‘organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’. Rooted in the cultural assumptions of utilitarian engineering and a cybernetic remix of the capitalist dream of infinite expansion, the imperial informatics of this mission statement exhibit a totalising control fantasy that is as ambitious as it is ignorant.

Details / PDF:

The full-text PDF of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Support Arena

Independent publications and critical thought are more important than ever. Arena has never relied on or received government funding. It has sustained its activities largely through the voluntary work and funding provided by editors and supporters. If Arena is to continue and to expand its readership, we need your support to do it.