HALAVAIS SEARCH ENGINE SOCIETY PDF

Sociology Nonfiction Search engines have become a key part of our everyday lives. Yet while much has been written about how to use search engines and how they can be improved, there has been comparatively little exploration of what the social and cultural effects might be. Like all technologies, search engines exist within a larger political, cultural, and economic environment. This volume aims to redress this balance and to address crucial questions such as: How have search engines changed the way we organize our thoughts about the world, and how we work? To what extent does political control of search engines, or the political influence of search engines, affect how they are used, misused, and regulated?

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Search Engine Society takes a critical look at search engines, how they work, the techniques used to manipulate them — from gaining better rankings to censorship, and the implications for privacy and democracy. Chapter one looks at the development and workings of search engines, from the once-essential directories of Yahoo!

This is situated within a wider discussion of information retrieval histories from the Library of Babylon onwards — and touches on recent moves into geospatial, mobile, social and semantic search. Balancing that focus on technology, the following chapter focuses on users, looking at how people search.

In other words, the query and search strategy is likely to change as more information becomes available. Power law distribution patterns famously recur throughout the web and in the third chapter Halavais looks at how this affects search results. But when Google tweaks its search engine algorithms to attempt to improve results, it can have enormous consequences for organisations dependent on their rankings in search results.

Halavais uses the example of Skyfacet. It is as if someone moved your shop from the main high street to an industrial estate. In this context it is not surprising that search engine advertising accounts for the majority of online advertising spend. Digital divides Following up on those issues, the fourth chapter looks at implications for democracy on two sides: firstly, the division between winners and losers in the contest for public attention; and secondly, the division between skilled and unskilled users of search engines.

The recent rise of Twitter in performing a similar role would be worth adding to that list. The book closes with a roundup of the possibilities of future search and the factors that will influence that, from increasing digitisation of material to improved mapping and the possibilities of RFID tags which makes objects a part of the web too. As is natural, there are areas which have developed since this book was written and so are not tackled in depth — most notably real-time search.

But those are incidental issues in what is an important book. Halavais manages to acknowledge the dominance of Google without being distracted by it, and gives due attention to non-Western tools and services not commonly seen as search tools.

He avoids the pitfalls of technological determinism and manages to distinguish between top-down domination and bottom-up diversity. What emerges is a sophisticated picture of power in flux.

A shorter version of this review will appear in Journalism Share this:.

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Review: Search Engine Society by Alexander Halavais

Search Engine Society takes a critical look at search engines, how they work, the techniques used to manipulate them — from gaining better rankings to censorship, and the implications for privacy and democracy. Chapter one looks at the development and workings of search engines, from the once-essential directories of Yahoo! This is situated within a wider discussion of information retrieval histories from the Library of Babylon onwards — and touches on recent moves into geospatial, mobile, social and semantic search. Balancing that focus on technology, the following chapter focuses on users, looking at how people search. In other words, the query and search strategy is likely to change as more information becomes available. Power law distribution patterns famously recur throughout the web and in the third chapter Halavais looks at how this affects search results.

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Search Engine Society

About Charlotte Hendriks Now a Bachelor of Arts, Charlotte has mainly focused on new media throughout her academic career. Search engines have become a widely used component of the Internet experience. It should be no surprise then, that search engines are part of the academic discourse concerning new media and Internet studies. The studies that have been undertaken usually look at the way search engines, and Google in particular, rank their results. In other words, the anatomy of the search engine is being examined, as well as the way in which the engine works should be improved. Since much has already been written on these notions, Halavais keeps his introduction to the point and structured. This makes total sense when an audience has a certain amount of background knowledge when it comes to the subject matter.

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