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Politics of the Search Engine

            Since the mid 1990's when most households began considering computers as essential items, the Internet "has emerged as a dominant interactive medium "(Introna and Nissenbaum, 2000, p. 169). There were claims that telecommunications would be "a democratizing force that will give voice to diverse social, economic, and cultural groups, to members of society not frequently heard in the public sphere " (Introna and Nissenbaum, 2000, p. 169). The world was never more than a mouse-click away, and therefore the masses of all races and socioeconomic classes would be empowered by this abundance of information (Introna and Nissenbaum, 2000). In order to properly navigate the Internet, search engines were developed to more accurately 'Surf the Web.' Soon, search engines were being celebrated as "the great new gatekeepers of culture "(Gain, 2005). Back in 1995, when few people realized the Internet's infinite possibilities, Vice President Al Gore described the technology as representing a "Global Internet Infrastructure (Introna and Nissenbaum, 2000, p. 169). .
             In a perfect world, search engines would be powered by scholars, scientists, business entrepreneurs, and politicians with a higher purpose (Introna and Nissenbaum, 2000). It would provide vital information on sites of public interest, such as schools (and libraries), museums, art galleries, parks, and vacation destinations (even providing accurate travel directions) (Introna and Nissenbaum, 2000). Search engines have established social, historical, cultural significance, and have become a major educator of students throughout the world (Introna and Nissenbaum, 2000). With importance comes power, and search engines wield mysterious ways of emphasizing some websites while dismissing others into oblivion (Introna and Nissenbaum, 2000). In a true democracy, there is non-compromised equality, but where search engines are concerned, "The gains, the power, and the access were consolidated in the hands of a few dominant individuals and institutions (Introna and Nissenbaum, 2000, p.

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