Friday, April 22, 2005

ubiquitous knowledge: google's infinite library

right now, google's at the top of my list of favorite companies. i didn't even know i had a list until now. it seems like every day, there is another worldchanging idea. my professor told our class once never to use a search engine that wasn't google. two years ago it was dogpile that was all the rage- remember that? then they revolutionize inobtrusive advertising with text ads that search your site for keywords before matching the ads to the audience, improving small webmakers and bloggers' ability to make a little money.

now, google has ambitious plans to create an enormous digital library. the plan is to begin scanning millions of books onto computers and placing them on the internet, though copyright battles are still to ensue. they have enlisted 5 major partners, including libraries at oxford, harvard, stanford, the university of michigan, and the new york public library. google will make one copy of their books for themselves, and one to be donated for the library to use on its own. users may be able to read snippets of copywrited books on the internet, search through databases of all books for keywords, have access to extraordinarily rare books, and read books that the publishers allow google to display in full. the complexities of the copyright are a battle that nobody knows how to anticipate. it is possible that google could create the largest fully accessible online library, or it could be that people will only be able to explore many books books in fragments, letting bookmakers capitalize.

either way, being able to search through a catalog of 60 million books for all books mentioning the name of a certain person, or a particular keyword, could be an enormous boon for researchers.

full article at mit's technology review, "the infinite library"

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