google library dominoes 02.20.2007, 2:00 AM
posted by ben vershbow
Princeton is the latest university to partner up with the Google library project, signing an agreement to have 1 million public domain books scanned over the next six years. Over at ALA Techsource Tom Peters voices the growing unease among librarians worried about the long-term implications of commercial enclosure of the world's leading research libraries.
bob stein on February 20, 2007 3:09 AM:
the first four comments to Tom Peter's post (see above) are an excellent summary of the range of thinking of well-meaning people on the Google question. the problem is that the range runs from "i'm not sure but let's trust the process" to "i'm not sure." although humans have figured out how to split atoms and make machines that can perform a trillion operation per second, we've yet to develop skills for understanding the long-term social implications of our technological prowess. my instinct, and of course that's all it is, continues to be that allowing a private corporation to be practically the sole-keeper of our collective memory will over time re-shape society in profound ways that we really should try to get a handle on now since i don't believe in a future which includes only utopian views; for after all, the bus stops at dystopia too. maybe it's time to call out the science fiction writers to conjure up some likely scenarios for what the future might hold.
Gary Frost on February 20, 2007 7:14 AM:
Everything will work out well IF the libraries hang on to their print collections. Right now the screen simulation of these collections acts as another bibliographic utility, like a library catalog that happens to include whole text. If the libraries default on the print collections moving our dependence for transmission of knowledge to screen simulation we will be in the same situation that we will face if we entrust democratic governance to touch screen voting.
Georgia Harper on February 20, 2007 2:15 PM:
I'm sure there are science fiction writers whose visions could help us make decisions about the future of libraries, books and publishing. I'd love to hear what someone like Phillip K. Dick would have had to say about it all. But Bob's unease about, "allowing a private corporation to be practically the sole-keeper of our collective memory" suggests to me (student) that there's a very good research paper in there somewhere too. The "sole" part could really use some exploration and explanation. It doesn't seem to be so obvious as the monopolies with which we in academe are more familiar (commercial for-profit SMT publishing, for example).
bowerbird on February 20, 2007 6:24 PM:
if the public sector keeps ignoring its responsibility,
we will end up with privatization as an inevitability...