The mechanical, robotic striving of university politburos and their jack boot managers have always been interesting when it comes to one particular topic: the role of technology and its adoption. For it is in technology that the mediocre paper clip shuffler can claim to have achieved something – on someone else’s back, naturally.
The shift to Google by universities as a storage and communication mechanism was something taken with a breezy obliviousness to its implications. For Google, it was a magical boon: mass concentration of staff and student data, cloud facilities, the magic of information. Such decisions are generally taken without asking the staff who actually use it – the nature of university management is piously anti-democratic, with all the usual balloons of sentiment about faux consultation and the like.
Google’s move into the university sector with a mixture of predatory zeal and seductive wooing was inexorable, mimicking the cyber colonisation drive of Steve Jobs at Apple (“computers are bicycles for the mind”).
In schools, Google has built a relentless, unquestioned empire, taking root in such systems as Chicago Public Schools, the third largest school district in the United States. As the New York Times noted in May 2017, such an event heralded “the Googlification of the classroom.” Teachers became Google grunts advertising products to other schools, bypassing school district officials. Students became Google converts,…