1st Edition

Invisible Search and Online Search Engines The Ubiquity of Search in Everyday Life

By Jutta Haider, Olof Sundin Copyright 2019
    160 Pages
    by Routledge

    160 Pages
    by Routledge

    Invisible Search and Online Search Engines considers the use of search engines in contemporary everyday life and the challenges this poses for media and information literacy. Looking for mediated information is mostly done online and arbitrated by the various tools and devices that people carry with them on a daily basis. Because of this, search engines have a significant impact on the structure of our lives, and personal and public memories. Haider and Sundin consider what this means for society, whilst also uniting research on information retrieval with research on how people actually look for and encounter information.

    Search engines are now one of society’s key infrastructures for knowing and becoming informed. While their use is dispersed across myriads of social practices, where they have acquired close to naturalised positions, they are commercially and technically centralised. Arguing that search, searching, and search engines have become so widely used that we have stopped noticing them, Haider and Sundin consider what it means to be so reliant on this all-encompassing and increasingly invisible information infrastructure.

    Invisible Search and Online Search Engines is the first book to approach search and search engines from a perspective that combines insights from the technical expertise of information science research with a social science and humanities approach. As such, the book should be essential reading for academics, researchers, and students working on and studying information science, library and information science (LIS), media studies, journalism, digital cultures, and educational sciences.


    Chapter 1: Introduction

    Chapter 2: Perspectives on search

    Chapter 3: The materialities of search

    Chapter 4: Search in everyday life

    Chapter 5: Search and media and information literacy

    Chapter 6: Researching search and search as research

    Chapter 7: Conclusion



    Jutta Haider is an Associate Professor in Information Studies at the Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences, Lund University, Sweden. She has published widely on digital cultures' emerging conditions for production, use, and distribution of knowledge and information. This includes work on environmental information and on knowledge institutions, including encyclopaedias, search engines, and the scholarly communication system.

    Olof Sundin is Professor in Information Studies at the Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences, Lund University, Sweden. His work concerns mainly information literacies and practices in various settings. More precisely, he researches the configuration of information in contemporary society, the construction of trustworthiness of public knowledge, and information searching and use.

    "This is an excellent book that provides a unique perspective on the field of web search studies. Jutta Haider and Olof Sundin place search where it is best placed: in everyday life. Search has become neither the sole activity of finding reliable information on important topics nor just looking up facts or trivia but is used for both purposes interchangeably. This book, which is well-grounded in the literature from different fields, provides an excellent basis for understanding search as an integral part of everyday life."

    - Dirk Lewandowski, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Germany


    "This is a marvelously written, beautifully researched volume which explores the centrality of search to our lives. It ranges fluently across a number of fields to produce fresh insights into topics such as the creation of new temporalities and meaning-making in information infrastructures."

    - Geoffrey Bowker, University of California Irvine, USA


    "Search is probably the most important concept in library and information science and is increasing, as demonstrated in the book, and is also studied by many other disciplines, including media studies and science studies. The book does a great job by presenting new knowledge of such an interdisciplinary nature. It is well known that there are many perspectives (or 'paradigms') in these fields, and this book advocates that search and search engines should be based in the perspective of everyday life and practice studies, and thereby it represents an important new voice in this extremely important field. "

    - Birger Hjørland, University of Copenhagen, Denmark


    "The authors integrate research on the use of search engines as invisible infrastructure in everyday life by pulling together theories and empirical findings from information science, media and cultural studies, and science and technology to studies (STS). This book offers new insights on searching at individual, group, and societal levels beyond the established perspectives in the fields of information retrieval and information behavior. The gem of this book is novel conceptions such as search-fication of everyday life and mudane-ification of search that would open up engaging discussions about fundamental contributions of searching in contemporary society."

    - Soo Young Rieh, University of Michigan, USA


    "Information studies has traditionally evaded studying search technologies from a critical sociological standpoint. This book fills an important gap and outlines a necessary new direction for information research. As the authors show, today, Google forms the framework within which we can find and know things. We rarely stop to consider, as this book wants us to do, who and what mechanisms control the facts and narratives to which we have access. Are our vast possibilities to conduct searches on every possible topic really so vast after all? And what do we stand to loose if Google and other tech giants effectively set limits to what we are able to find, or know? This book is highly timely as the term algorithmic censorship is becoming an important topic of discussion, together with the rising awareness that Google's source preferences strongly favor mainstream corporate media and dominant narratives, which poses a threat to our ability to see and consider multiple and also dissenting voices, mandating us all to consider how to overcome and tinker with our everyday technologies."

    - Sanna Talja, University of Tampere, Finland