“Google and the World Brain”, a review

Every year I go to Sundance to watch the latest Independent flicks and ground breaking documentaries. When I saw the title ‘google’ in this documentary, I was sold. Surely a documentary about what’s becoming the internet’s fastest growing company would be worth seeing, right?

The only description I had of the documentary before viewing it was this: Google has been trying to build a giant digital library, and some people don’t like it.

Fair enough.

However, as I sat through this movie, I realized quickly the stark Eurocentric point of view that the film makers are presenting. Given the background of this film it wasn’t surprising. Ben Lewis is the film director of British Origins; too, with German funding, the odds that the word “World” in the title meaning anything other than euroasia weren’t very likely.

In fact, in this film, the word “world” means Germany, UK, France, Japan and China. Obviously these countries, alongside the conspiring United States of America whose host of the company “Google”,  are the most important information centers in the world. When the Library of Alexandria was mentioned briefly in the film it was mentioned in a way to embrace the theory that the Greeks founded the library.

As the movie rolled towards an ending, there was a question and answer with those involved in making the film. Though I raised my hand, I wasn’t called on. It was unfortunate because I would have loved to ask,

“Is there a reason that only the Euroasian part of the world is mentioned in this film when the intent of the film is to expose how google may be stealing the world’s information? Was there not enough time to show any countries but European and Asia? Or perhaps, were there no protests from the rest of the world? Was any research put into exploring what reaction other parts of the world had?”

The rest of my party going to this film didn’t agree with my criticism  claiming that truthfully, they didn’t believe that any other part of the world would care but Europe and Asia.

The message of the film itself isn’t a bad one. It’s function is to expose the fact that Google has made private deals with public libraries to make digital copies of books, some of which are copyrighted. The concern was that the copyrighted works were being sold by google and none of the money was going to the publishers and the authors. A fair concern, of course.

But if such a focus is going to be put on the world, they should really mean, ‘the world’. Films like these only embrace the eurocentric point of view that only Europe and Asia do meaningful things and that the rest of the world is ‘in the dark’. It’s a slow and subconscious thought that is permeating society, but slowly and surely the white audience can confirm that they, from their European or Asian descent, are superior to the rest of the world. They are the ‘civilized’ who hold all of the knowledge in the world, and it is their job to protect it from Google.

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