Google’s highly successful business model is based on selling words that appear in search queries. Organizing several million auctions per minute, the company has created the first global linguistic market and demonstrated that linguistic capitalism is a lucrative business domain, one in which billions of dollars can be realized per year. Google’s services need to be interpreted from this perspective. This article argues that linguistic capitalism implies not an economy of attention but an economy of expression. As several million users worldwide daily express themselves through one of Google’s interfaces, the texts they produce are systematically mediated by algorithms. In this new context, natural languages could progressively evolve to seamlessly integrate the linguistic biases of algorithms and the economical constraints of the global linguistic economy.
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Research Article| August 01 2014
Linguistic Capitalism and Algorithmic Mediation
FREDERIC KAPLAN holds the chair of Digital Humanities and directs the Digital Humanities Laboratory (DHLAB) at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).
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Representations (2014) 127 (1): 57–63.
Frederic Kaplan; Linguistic Capitalism and Algorithmic Mediation. Representations 1 August 2014; 127 (1): 57–63. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.2014.127.1.57
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