¶ Week 2: Questions

Required – Do the following after you have written your response:  

a.) Look at the Library of Congress Classifications and determine the category in which your post should go.

b.) Propose 4 keywords that most closely describe your post and search those terms in the Library of Congress Subject Headings database to see if they exist. For terms that are not already there, search for ones that most closely match them. Include both your original keywords and the LC terms in your post.

I realize using the LC is new to you.  Just do your best.

Answer at least one of the following:

1.) Last night’s discussion about Google was rich, intense and touched on a lot of complex issues. One of the many questions it raised for me was, how do you discuss this topic with people who are less literate in informatics, technology, issues of hegemony, etc.? In other words, how do discuss it with most people?

With my question in mind, explain how you as an instructor would present issues of bias in Google and other search engines to either high school students or undergrads. Consider the many layers of complexity that Dr. Noble raises in her article, “Google Search: Hyper-visibility as a Means of Rendering Black Women and Girls Invisible.” They include: the racist/sexist mindset embedded in algorithm design and the impact that such algorithms have on information findability, the fact that prejudicial content dominates the web, common information seeking behaviors (i.e. only reading the first page of search results), capitalistic interests, long established racist/sexist classification systems, and the illusion of objectivity. How would you break these concepts down and, essentially, translate them to a younger less knowledgeable audience? What basic takeaways would you want them to leave with? It’s hard not to feel cynical after seeing “the man behind the curtain” or The Man behind the Google. How would you handle this with your students? Should they feel cynical or something else? 

2.) Erasure and invisibility are recurring themes in Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and are a central topic in Noble’s “Google Search: Hyper-visibility as a Means of Rendering Black Women and Girls Invisible.”

Baldwin writes: “The truth about the black man, as a historical entity and as a human being, has been hidden from him, deliberately and cruelly; the power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to accept the white world’s definitions. So every attempt is made to cut that black man down — not only was made yesterday but is made today.” (69)

Noble writes: “At the heart of the public’s general understanding and trust in commercial search engines like Google, is a belief in the neutrality of technology—a technologically deterministic blind spot to the embedded social values in technology design itself—which only obscures our ability to understand the potency of misrepresentation that further marginalizes and renders the interests of Black women, coded as girls, invisible.”

Explore the parallels between their works, i.e. issues concerning hegemony, systems and power. Then discuss the similarities and differences in the way they address these issues. Are they essentially making the same argument? Or are there fundamental differences? How might Noble’s argument be the “today” of which Baldwin speaks?