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Google Search and the creation of ignorance: The case of the climate crisis
University of Borås, Faculty of Librarianship, Information, Education and IT. Swedish School of Library and Information Science, University of Borås, Boras, Sweden. (Informationspraktier och digitala kulturer)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8293-8208
Division of Environmental Communication, Department of Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden.
2023 (English)In: Big Data and Society, E-ISSN 2053-9517, Vol. 10, no 1, article id 205395172311589Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Sustainable development
According to the author(s), the content of this publication falls within the area of sustainable development.
Abstract [en]

The article examines the relationship between commercial search engines, using Google Search as an example, and various forms of ignorance related to climate change. It draws on concepts from the field of agnotology to explore how environmental ignorances, and specifically related to the climate crisis, are shaped at the intersection of the logics of Google Search, everyday life and civil society/politics. Ignorance refers to a multi-facetted understanding of the culturally contingent ways in which something may not be known. Two research questions are addressed: How are environmental ignorances, and in particular related to the climate crisis, shaped at the intersection of the logics of Google Search, everyday life and civil society/politics? In what ways can we conceptualise Google's role as configured into the creation of ignorances? The argument is made through four vignettes, each of which explores and illustrates how Google Search is configured into a different kind of socially produced ignorance: (1) Ignorance through information avoidance: climate anxiety; (2) Ignorance through selective choice: gaming search terms; (3) Ignorance by design: algorithmically embodied emissions; (4) Ignorance through query suggestions: directing people to data voids. The article shows that while Google Search and its underlying algorithmic and commercial logic pre-figure these ignorances, they are also co-created and co-maintained by content producers, users and other human and non-human actors, as Google Search has become integral of social practices and ideas about them. The conclusion draws attention to a new logic of ignorance that is emerging in conjunction with a new knowledge logic. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2023. Vol. 10, no 1, article id 205395172311589
National Category
Information Studies
Research subject
Library and Information Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hb:diva-29467DOI: 10.1177/20539517231158997ISI: 000950637900001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85150046024OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hb-29467DiVA, id: diva2:1738950
Funder
Mistra - The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research, MISTRA Environmental CommunicationAvailable from: 2023-02-23 Created: 2023-02-23 Last updated: 2024-04-30Bibliographically approved

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Haider, Jutta

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