Deconstructing Google Bombs
Google bombing is a cool idea that I would like to try once I think of a worthy subject. But the purpose of this paper is to determine whether Google bombing can be considered a "social movement." Apparently some cases are social movements, but some are not. The miserable failure Google bomb is not a social movement because it arose from a general dissatisfaction and not specifically to put Bush's biography at the top of a search for "miserable failure." But the Jew Google bomb was specifically organized in response to the appearance of an anti-Semitic website as the first result of a search for "Jew." I'm not sure if the distinction is so clear-cut though. Is "miserable failure" not a social movement because it reflects an existing state of mind, while "Jew" is because it was a new creation?
The issue of who controls media and reality reminded me of The Third Wave, a book which predicts and describes the fall of industrial society and the rise of a new, decentralized society. One interesting topic in the book is the distinction between producer and consumer that industrialism created, which the third wave is supposed to reunite. The Internet is part of that change. Instead of monolithic television stations controlling our representations of reality, media is splitting up into a more democratic form.
Blogs are a relatively new way to bring production back to the people. And Google bombing is a way for groups of loosely connected people to influence the Internet's equivalent of monolithic media producers. That's not necessarily a bad thing. The danger lies in tipping the balance too far from conformity to the side of diversity, where search engines are no longer trusted to provide objective results. Google bombing is an agent of diversity because it increases the number of viewpoints in what makes an objective result. When Google is upholding the objectivity of their search, this underlying conformity enhances the effectiveness of communication; it is a common language. Hopefully Google will remain balanced.
A similar concept is Douglas Adams' idea about communication and the fourth "age of sand" from his speech Is there an Artificial God? There is the conversational one-to-one communication, the hierarchical one-to-many, the democratic many-to-one, and finally the chaotic many-to-many. This many-to-many flavor of communication is now being made possible on a large scale by the Internet. We are still dominated by an industrial one-to-many format by newspapers, television and public education. This separation of production and consumption is unhealthy and stressful. We can't easily do much about the disasters we hear about or the policies of our centralized government. Fixing this problem is the promise of the third wave and the fourth age of sand.