siva podcast on the googlization of libraries 09.10.2007, 7:39 PM
posted by ben vershbow
We're just a couple of days away from launching what promises to be one of our most important projects to date, The Googlization of Everything, a weblog where Siva Vaidhyanathan (who's a fellow here) will publicly develop his new book, a major critical examination of the Google behemoth. As an appetizer, check out this First Monday podcast conversation with Siva on the subject of Google's book activities (mp3, transcript).
Q: So what's the alternative? Who are the major players, what are the major policy points?
SIVA: I think this is an important enough project where we need to have a nationwide effort. We have to have a publicly funded effort. Guided, perhaps led by the Library of Congress, certainly a consortium of public university libraries could do just as well to do it.
We're willing to do these sorts of big projects in the sciences. Look at how individual states are rallying billions of dollars to fund stem cell research right now. Look at the ways the United States government, the French government, the Japanese government rallied billions of dollars for the Human Genome Project out of concern that all that essential information was going to be privatized and served in an inefficient and unwieldy way.
So those are the models that I would like to see us pursue. What saddens me about Google's initiative, is that it's let so many people off the hook. Essentially we've seen so many people say, "Great now we don't have to do the digital library projects we were planning to do." And many of these libraries involved in the Google project were in the process of producing their own digital libraries. We don't have to do that any more because Google will do it for us. We don't have to worry about things like quality because Google will take care of the quantity.
And so what I would like to see? I would like to see all the major public universities, public research universities, in the country gather together and raise the money or persuade Congress to deliver the money to do this sort of thing because it's in the public interest, not because it's in Google's interest. If it really is this important we should be able to mount a public campaign, a set of arguments and convince the people with the purse strings that this should be done right.
bowerbird on September 11, 2007 4:16 AM:
i'd _love_ to see the public sector do this job.
but the truth is that it has its head up its butt.
umichigan had a 99-year plan in effect. laughable.
jeff drouin on September 12, 2007 10:30 AM:
Here's a news item about it at the Chronicle of Higher Ed.
Adam Hodgkin on September 13, 2007 4:11 AM:
This seems like a very attractive goal -- we may end up calling it The Human Library Project. It is clear that part of the difficulty with the Google Books project is that the legal position in other countries (where the law is much less moot than it appears to be in the US) is making it very difficult for Google to deliver a consistent service. Some international co-ordination and participation would be very helpful.