Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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December 14, 2011
Why does Google correct my miss-spellllyngz?

Frédéric    Kaplan had some thoughts about this, and the topic of "linguistic capitalism," in last month's Le Monde Diplo (here) (below, roughly):

When the search engine corrects on the fly a word that you have spelled badly, it does not to render you a service: more often, it's transforming a raw material without much value (a misspelled word) into a directly profitable economic resource.

When Google extends a phrase that you have begun typing in the search box, it does not content itself merely to save you time: It is bringing you into the domain of language that it works like ore in a mine, inviting you to follow along the statistical trail traced by other internet users.

The technologies of linguistic capitalism thus push for the regularization of language. The more we will call upon the help of linguistic prostheses, letting the algorithms correct and extend our remarks, the more effective that regularization will be.

A pretty full draft version of Kaplan's article appears on his fascinating blog, here.

His point seems to be that never before has an entity had both, a) such a vast, up to the minute mastery of living language (and thus thought) in all its richness and variation (accidental & deliberate), and b) such incentive and ability to squelch and flatten that diversity in the interest of private profit.

If true: kwyte skairee.