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Documentaries on Google and Wikipedia

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Google: Behind the screen tackles the issue of the search engines ubiquity and its implications for privacy

Today Google and Wikipedia are such an ordinary part of our consciousness that we hardly stop to think about them unless there it is an involuntary reflex to type into our browsers and hit the search button. Two documentaries by Dutch filmmaker IJsbrand van Veelen attempt to raise some questions about the key issues surrounding the two darlings of internet users. As Google becomes the unquestioned search engine and is now providing services in a host of other areas (email, calendar, word processing, blogs, photos, news, maps, shopping etc) thereby collecting a lot of our personal information. On one hand this raises issues of security of the information we share with Google and the wider world. On the other hand is the issue of Google keeping track of its users and making decisions about information based on our profiles and habits. This raises issues of both security and monopoly.

Wikipedia, on the other hand, poses a different kind of challenge. The organisation only employs five people and all its activities are funded by donations and subsidies. The online encyclopedia that everyone can contribute to and revise is now even bigger than the illustrious Encyclopedia Britannica. In the new incarnation of the web (known as Web 2.0) amateurs and experts come together to create new collaborative knowledge about everything ranging from pins, bread, and pop culture to string theory, politics, and philosophy. But is this necessarily a good thing? Where does the boundary lie between expert and amateur? Who will survive according to the laws of this new “digital Darwinism”? Are equality and truth really reconcilable ideals? And most importantly, has the Internet brought us wisdom and truth, or is it high time for a cultural counterrevolution?

Both the documentaries are available to be viewed online on Youtube.

Google: Behind the screen

The Truth according to Wikipedia

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