Google books

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Geoffrey Nunberg's piece from The Chronicle of Higher Education calling Google's Book Search "A Disaster for Scholars" observes that "Google's digitization effort is clearly on track to becoming the world's largest digital library," and already has "an effective monopoly" despite consistent problems with unreliable metadata. Nunberg discusses a plethora of classification errors and incorrect publication dates, and traces the problem to Amazon's unfamiliarity with issues peculiar to libraries: "managing a vast library collection requires different skills, approaches, and data than those that enabled Google to dominate Web searching."

Google has done a credible job of making the Internet searchable, but the corpus of the written word is indeed a far different task. Google Books is a useful resource, but without an accurate index (card catalog, anyone?) it is far less than it could be. Amazon is arguing that Google's move will "gouge consumers and stifle competition," but such anti-monopoly rhetoric sounds rather funny coming from a company that not only holds 43% of the online bookselling market but is competing with Google by digitizing more than 300,000 books for its Kindle ebook device.

I'll go to Stewart Brand for my Quote of the Day:

"On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other."

(first Hackers conference, 1984)

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on September 7, 2009 6:16 PM.

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