Society of the query

Google screenshot painting by Tyler Wilde.

Article by Dutch-Australian media theorist Geert Lovink on google, society of the spectacle/query and the shape of critical thought in this info-glut.

‘The society of the query and the Googlization of our lives’

An excerpt

Ever since the rise of search engines in the 1990s we have been living in the “society of the query”, which, as Weizenbaum indicates, is not far removed from the “society of the spectacle”. Written in the late 1960s, Guy Debord’s situationist analysis was based on the rise of the film, television and advertisement industries. The main difference today is that we are explicitly requested to interact. We are no longer addressed as an anonymous mass of passive consumers but instead are “distributed actors” who are present on a multitude of channels. Debord’s critique of commodification is no longer revolutionary. The pleasure of consumerism is so widespread that it is has reached the status of a universal human right. We all love the commodity fetish, the brands, and indulge in the glamour that the global celebrity class performs on our behalf. There is no social movement or cultural practice, however radical, that can escape the commodity logic. No strategy has been devised to live in the age of the post-spectacle. Concerns have instead been focusing on privacy, or what’s left of it. The capacity of capitalism to absorb its adversaries is such that, unless all private telephone conversations and Internet traffic became were to become publicly available, it is next to impossible to argue why we still need criticism – in this case of the Internet.