Tuesday, October 23, 2007

David vs. Googliath

I congratulate those of you who read that horrible pun in the title, but still decided to read the article. That pun was just awful.

My brother sent me an article from the New York Times that talks about Google's work in scanning books and making them available to search. I've long been a fan of Google's work, even after publishers tried to bring a halt to the work by America's favorite pastime, litigation. However, the NYT puts a different spin on things.

When Google scans this material, they make it available to anybody who uses their search engines, but ONLY people using their search engines. From the article:

"Libraries that agree to work with Google must agree to a set of terms, which include making the material unavailable to other commercial search services. Microsoft places a similar restriction on the books it converts to electronic form."

So even though something is in the public domain, you can only find it through Google's engine. It is not clear whether or not the library can allow somebody else to scan in the work, and then make it available.

So, we have the king of the search engines, and some might argue the king of the internet, hoarding information. As an information liberator, I find that highly offensive. :)

Enter David. From the article:

"The research libraries, including a large consortium in the Boston area, are instead signing on with the Open Content Alliance, a nonprofit effort aimed at making their materials broadly available...[The Open Content Alliance] is making the material available to any search service."

At the end of the day, I want to see content in the hands of those who can benefit from it. I don't want to see the day when you have to do a search in 6 different search engines because they all have information the other one doesn't.

Kudos to the Open Content Alliance for making content open to all.

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