Powered by Google: Widening Access and Tightening Corporate Control


  • Dan Schiller
  • Shinjoung Yeo


The Internet and new media are often seen as constituting open spaces where cultural empowerment and free-flowing expressive creativity find emancipation from top-down political-economic power. However, this one-sided perspective is insufficient, if not even invalid: the democratization of art does not cease to confront structural obstacles in cyberspace, as is
shown by this case-study of Google’s overt interventions into art and culture. Google is working to digitize museum collections at its own expense, and is making art work widely accessible on the Internet. We show how this widened access itself, however, functions as a Google market strategy for turning cultural production into a site of profit-making. Google is quietly reorganizing cultural spaces on a global scale, to incorporate them into its more encompassing business of information.