I read a small pamphlet the other day, Google: Words beyond Grammar, by Boris Groys. It makes the provocative claim that our generation's ubiquitous dependence on the Google search box results in the detachment of words from grammar.
You should read it yourself, because I'm not going to attempt to be faithful to the author's terminology - I'm going to use my own diction - but the basic point is that words become self sufficient units of cross-reference, rather than functions of arguments, propositions, understandings, all as made meaningful only through grammar and syntax.
A paradox surfaces from this development. If words become, not functions of books, chapters, paragraphs, conversations, individual sentences; if words instead become the catalogue of the infinity of their respective uses and references: how is it that we acknowledge that Google must necessarily serve us results from a finite sampling?
There is also a flaw in the author's argument, I think. The flaw arises from what I believe is his presupposition that Google searches are not overly dependent upon Google's presupposition about the persona it is serving (the person to whom it is delivering the search results). The author does allow that the Google search methods take into account the particular searcher's prior queries. But Google today does more than that. And in the future, search will not depend upon the deliberate or even unwitting actions of the searcher. Google, or it successors, will affirmatively bring to bear, or search for, information* about the searcher herself, before or in connection with her searches. That is, it may not be possible to perform a search that is not inflected by a constructed identity of the searcher. Will this be the Heisenberg principle for information technology?
But just as there is nothing new under the sun, there is nothing original in what Google hath wrought. The author brings up the word clouds assembled in the early 20th Century by Tommaso Marinetti. (Pictured here is "Assembly Vallate + x + Strade Joffre", 1915.)
Groys's pamphlet is cool because he brings together tech, art and the philosophy of science. It is one among "100 Notes," published in anticipation of the dOCUMENTA (13) art event, coming up in June in Kassel, Germany.
*"Information" here denoting a catalogue of cross-references, and perhaps inferences related to (affirmatively associated with) the searcher; but, again, not necessarily any "meaning" about the searcher.