Jurate Kavaliauskaite, Justina Mandravickaite (Vilnius University)

On the Elusive Semantics of Google

Tech-innovation prompts a complexity of networked communication and intermediation that brings new conceptual challenges. From discovering the strategic polysemy of digital ‘platforms’ (Gillespie 2010) to denouncing ‘Facebook’ as ‘social media’ (Bucher 2021), the emerging literature calls to adjust ‘our conceptual toolbox’ (Floridi 2015) to understand new hybrid entities that underlie deep tech-driven socio-economic change yet come in a myriad of unstable names. Thus here, we trace the lexical semantics of such a contested entity – Google – in its native (U.S.) tech mediascape over two decades, discussing the results of several key computational techniques (collocations, semantic networks, and word embeddings) (McGillivray&Tóth, 2020).