The Old Media Business in the New: ‘The Googlization of Everything’ as the Capitalization of Digital Consumption

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This paper argues that Google’s new media business is essentially similar to the old media business of channeling audience activities of consumption. ‘Digital labor’ and its role in the profitability of digital media companies have received increasing attention from scholars. However, digital audience labor has not been analyzed or recognized as the most important to digital media companies’ profit-making ability. Digital audience labor is here conceptualized as the use of digital media to consume culture and make meaning. Most digital media companies must control the activities of their users as cultural consumers in order to generate revenue, just as most ‘old media’ companies have long done. Google is an exemplary case: ‘The Googlization of Everything’ is primarily a process of trying to gain control over numerous activities of digital cultural consumption. Those activities can be understood as digital audience labor, and Google uses its control to extract value, i.e. to exploit digital audience labor. Google Search, Google Books, and YouTube are examples of this effort to exploit digital audience labor.

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