This book is concerned with how search, searching and with them search engines have become so widely used that we have stopped noticing them. One of society’s key infrastructure for knowing and getting informed are computerised systems supporting the search for and locating of documents and information. The use of these systems, search engines, is curiously dispersed and centralised at the same time. It is dispersed across a vast array of social practices in which it has acquired close to naturalised positions and it is commercially and technically centralised and controlled by a handful very dominant companies, especially one extremely powerful global player, Google. 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. In addition, various algorithms and not least economic interests organise search. This way search engines contribute to structuring private as much as professional lives and public and personal memories in ways that might not be immediately obvious. Yet, what does that mean more specifically? How do people deal with search engines? How do we research their use and which strands of previous research help us understand this all-encompassing, increasingly invisible information infrastructure? In this book we encounter original research on the use of search engines in contemporary everyday life and the challenges they pose for media- and information literacy, together with reflections on previous research from fields such as library and information science, media studies and STS. By doing this the authors also reclaim the study of search for library and information science. They tap into the discipline’s multifaceted tradition of research in information retrieval, information seeking and information behaviour and highlight its significant contributions to understanding and researching search in contemporary society.
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