The Privacy Consequences of Search

  • Tim Dwyer
Part of the Palgrave Global Media Policy and Business book series (GMPB)


In Chapter 1, I suggested that the term ‘algorithmically mediatised living’ is now a useful, if somewhat mysterious, way for explaining the shift to new ways of knowing that are underpinned by computerisation. To revisit the term, you will recall that it’s referencing an idea that the design of computing algorithms in, for example, computer search, actively produces knowledge and is facilitating material social life choices. The word algorithm invokes a level of geekdom that frightens many away. But like so many examples of techspeak, it’s actually representing a fairly straightforward notion. It refers to any methodical way of doing a series of prioritised tasks. So, in the case of search engines, at an elementary level, it is referencing an opaque ‘blackbox’ process whereby the ‘engine’ automatically converts data collected into a results list of the most relevant material found. This shift to algorithmically mediatised living is an essential element in Pasquinelli’s account of ‘cognitive capitalism’; in his view, it represents ‘a new planetary scale of computation (which) demands, nevertheless, a new planetary scale of politics’. 3


Search Engine Personal Information Personal Data Federal Trade Commission Personal Privacy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Further reading

  1. Graham, G., Schoeder, R., & Taylor, G. (2013) ‘Re: Search’, New Media & Society, 15(8): 1366–1373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Halavais. A. (2009) Search Engine Society, Cambridge, UK: Polity.Google Scholar
  3. Leaver, T. & Lloyd, C. (2015) ‘Seeking Transparency in Locative Media’ in R. Wilken & G. Goggin, (Eds) Locative Media. New York & London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Pasquinelli, M. (2014) ‘The Eye of the Algorithm: Cognitive Anthropocene and the Making of the World Brain’. Available at:

Copyright information

© Tim Dwyer 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tim Dwyer
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations