So: is Google a good thing?

John Lanchester asks, “Is Google a good thing?” in the London Review of Books and concludes:

The best historical analogy for where Google is today probably comes from the time when the railroads were being built. Everyone knew that trains and railways would change the world, but no one predicted the invention of suburbs. Google, and the increased flow of information on which it rides and from which it benefits, is the railway. I don’t think we’ve yet seen the first suburbs.

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