By the year 2008, Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. will merge to create Googlezon. With Google’s infinite database and Amazon’s personalized catalog of consumer shopping habits, almost every American will have access to the world’s largest collection of individualized information and customized advertisements.
This is only a minor stepping stone in a series of actions that could eventually wipe out news media as we know it.
At least that’s how the story goes according to Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson. Last year, the two Stanford University graduates created a flash media film, “Epic 2014,” chronicling the history of the Web from its creation in 1989 up to 2014, making up a fictitious future.
Though the story may seem a bit far-fetched, the concepts are still worth viewing (www.robinsloan.com/epic) because at this rate, none of us can really be sure where the Internet is heading.
The expansion of Google occurred in rapid succession, currently making it most people’s favorite search engine. The word itself can even be found on Dictionary.com as a verb meaning “to search for information on the Internet.” For example, “I Googled my name online while procrastinating for finals.”
Much more than just a basic Web search, Google also offers a multitude of additional services. While Google Image generates pictures, Google Earth provides an astonishing, yet slightly eerie, satellite image of geographical locations around the world including your own neighborhood.
Not to mention there’s also Gmail, Google Talk, Google Print, Google Scholar, Google Map, Google Video, Google Directory, Google News … the list goes on and on. In 2003, Froogle, a price-engine Web site, was created to reveal a system all too reminiscent of Googlezon.
Naturally, with rapid succession follows imminent controversy as consumers and corporations alike grow weary of Google’s growing power. Over the years, Google has acquired a list of different software services to strengthen its search power.
As it continues to develop and grow with these different services, Google will create a limitless database of information that may one day monopolize the Internet. Sloan and Thompson go as far in their video to say “Googlezon’s computers will construct news stories dynamically, stripping sentences and facts from all content sources and recombining them. The computer writes a news story for every user.”
Of course this is all speculation. Even Sloan himself said he doesn’t really think Google and Amazon will ever merge (and he definitely doesn’t think it would ever be identified as something like Googlezon). But the point here is that the theory has a poignant message behind all of this conspiracy theory gibberish.
The Internet has become a powerful tool fueled by Web sites like Google, which offer infinite, inexhaustible information free for the entire world. The educational value is limitless and the convenience is immeasurable. But misguided down the wrong path or manipulated by the wrong people could lead to disaster.
If the information we receive from Google becomes computer generated and predisposed, it could be the catastrophic end of free enterprise as we know it and the beginning of something intoxicatingly numb.
Fortunately, we all know the best thing about the Internet is its boundlessness. It is a man-made powerhouse created by people from every crevice of the world. That’s what makes it as close to relative as information can be.
So to hypothesize that capitalism or corporatism could ever change that is admittedly a bit absurd.
But the scary part is, … despite the ridiculousness of it all, do any of us really doubt that eventually, someday … someone will try?
Eva Liao can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.