Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge: A View from Europe

Paperback | October 15, 2007

byJean-Noël Jeanneney

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The recent announcement that Google would digitize the holdings of several major libraries sent shock waves through the book industry and academe. Google presented this digital repository as a first step towards a long-dreamed-of universal library, but skeptics were quick to raise a number of concerns about the potential for copyright infringement and unanticipated effects on the business of research and publishing.

Jean-Noël Jeanneney, president of France’s Bibliothèque Nationale, here takes aim at what he sees as a far more troubling aspect of Google’s Library Project: its potential to misrepresent—and even damage—the world’s cultural heritage. In this impassioned work, Jeanneney argues that Google’s unsystematic digitization of books from a few partner libraries and its reliance on works written mostly in English constitute acts of selection that can only extend the dominance of American culture abroad.

As a leading librarian, Jeanneney remains enthusiastic about the archival potential of the Web. But he argues that the short-term thinking characterized by Google’s digital repository must be countered by long-term planning on the part of cultural and governmental institutions worldwide—a serious effort to create a truly comprehensive library, one based on the politics of inclusion and multiculturalism.

“The president of the French national library has made himself the frontman in what he sees as a struggle to save cultural diversity. In the postmodern world, the battleground is the Internet. Here, search engines determine what tomorrow's generations will click on, learn and think.”—Financial Times

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From the Publisher

The recent announcement that Google would digitize the holdings of several major libraries sent shock waves through the book industry and academe. Google presented this digital repository as a first step towards a long-dreamed-of universal library, but skeptics were quick to raise a number of concerns about the potential for copyright ...

From the Jacket

The recent announcement that Google will digitize the holdings of several major libraries sent shock waves through the book industry and academe. Google presented this digital repository as a first step towards a long-dreamed-of universal library, but skeptics were quick to raise a number of concerns about the potential for copyright i...

Jean-Noël Jeanneney was the president of the Bibliothèque nationale de France from 2002 until 2007. Teresa Lavender Fagan has translated more than a dozen books for the University of Chicago Press.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:108 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.3 inPublished:October 15, 2007Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226395782

ISBN - 13:9780226395784

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Table of Contents

Foreword, by Ian Wilson   vii

Acknowledgments 

Introduction   

A Resounding Announcement 

A Healthy Jolt

Brush Fire 

Europe on the March 

Meanwhile, in the United States . . . 

The Lines Are Drawn 

Realism and Promptness 


1. Remarkable Progress 

            A Positive Outlook 

            The Book Will Survive 

            The Need for Librarians and Booksellers 


2. At the Mercy of the Market 

            The “Invisible Hand” 

            Film and Audiovisuals 

            Overwhelming Advertising


3. Hyperpower 

            India, China, the Arab World, Africa 

            Europe––the Courage to Be Different 

            What “Gondola End”?


4. The Difficulties of a Response

            Cooperatives: Strengths and Limitations

            Public Money

            Image Mode, Text Mode, Metadata


5. One European Search Engine––or Several?

            The Loftiest Aspiration 

            Google Is Not Immortal

            Longevity as an Obsession


6. Organizing Knowledge

            The Harvest and the Display

            Disorganized Bulk––an Absolute Danger

            Transparency, Flexibility, and Rigor


7. A Cultural Project, an Industrial Project 

            Two Facets of the Same Aspiration

            Publishers Are Essential

            What Structure? What Budget?


Conclusion: A Broader Perspective

Translator’s Afterword