Ben Byrne (VIC)
The Google Alphabet
Medium: Web installation
Now somewhat appropriately a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc, Google routinely listens in to the daily lives of millions around the world through its search engine and other products, such as Android, Google Maps, Chrome and Youtube. The company gathers our data, listening in to learn our interests, connections, movements and more. The Google Alphabet listens in turn to the company’s suggestions, to the way it completes not only our sentences but our words and thoughts. It shows how we are learning a new alphabet, one in which g is for google, f is for facebook and the phonetic alphabet is populated with the names of airlines, social media, phone companies and online shopping hubs. While words of the day will vary depending on when and where the installation is run, it is immediately apparently how consistent some of the results are.Live querying Google’s search and returning the first autocomplete it offers for each letter of the Roman alphabet, the installation shows how the vast cybernetic system of the contemporary internet, driven by ongoing flows of public and corporate desire, is influencing the way we learn and know the languages in which we communicate.
Ben Byrne is a writer, media artist, curator, researcher and teacher consumed by sonic, electronic and digital culture. He is a Lecturer in Digital Media at RMIT University. He is also the founder and director of Avantwhatever.