2019 Volume 12 Issue 1 Pages 1-13
The ranking of search engine results is commonly encountered media in daily life. However, most users are unaware of how search engines rank websites or even that the results are ranked, and trust that search engines arrange results appropriately. The purpose of this study is to clarify the history of the discourse on media (i.e., search engines) used to find webpages in Japan by analyzing articles in major Japanese personal computer magazines published during the Web 1.0 era. Consequently, this study clarifies that (1) the World Wide Web was originally considered as a “plaything” before becoming a tool for content searching, (2) tools for searching websites altered from semantic directories to computational rankings, and (3) discourse explaining computational technology gradually decreased resulting from a change in the search engine environment from over-competition to monopolization. Through this historical process, search engine rankings have become the major media for finding websites. This suggests that search engine rankings as media have become black-boxed, and implicit trust in the rankings was constructed. This study contributes to understanding how digital platforms affect daily communications by applying a media studies perspective.