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The Google Search Universe

F. N. van der Vlist

The Googleverse is the ecosystem of Google's tools, products, and services. It represents the digital universe according to Google, which to many is the primary way of accessing the Web. This diagram takes stock of all local Google domains available for Web search by people worldwide. It has screen captures for each of Google's country code top-level domains (ccTLDs), which cater to people in different countries, sovereign states, and other territory identified with a country code. They are positioned and scaled according to the size of the populations they cater to. Yet notably, all of the nearly 200 local Google domains’ landing pages look roughly identical. They all have the white background, the centred brand mark with the search box underneath, the ‘I'm Feeling Lucky’ feature button, and a small number of visible tabs and hyperlinks. In fact, these landing pages have not really changed much at all since the launch of Google Search in the late 1990s. Meanwhile, scholars have written ‘Googlization’ critiques, including ‘Google and the Politics of Tabs’ (Govcom.org, 2008), Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge (Jeanneney, 2008), and The Googlization of Everything (Vaidhyanathan, 2011). But upon closer examination there are small differences, too. In addition to the changing tabs, there are differences in language, but also slight differences in the visual interface. First, at the time of data collection – May 11, 2011 – google.us redirects to the worldwide domain google.com, which is the only domain that does not state any country names. And second, google.com.hk is the only local Google domain with a curious solid black border around the centred brand mark with the search box underneath. Furthermore, as an interactive diagram of floating local Google Search widgets, the project also invites cross-language searches and comparative analysis of localised and personalised search results, which can serve critical purposes alongside general critiques of ‘Googlization’.

Kind Information Graphic
Designer F. N. van der Vlist
Publication Date 2011, October 15

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