Monday, October 12, 2009

Article: Google's Book Search: A Disaster for Scholars

This topic has been in the news recently and this article does an excellent job discussion the metadata problem. The comments below the article are also informative.

The article's author, Geoffrey Nunberg, wrote:
Google's five-year head start and its relationships with libraries and publishers give it an effective monopoly: No competitor will be able to come after it on the same scale. Nor is technology going to lower the cost of entry.
And later goes onto say:
it's so disappointing that the book search's metadata are a train wreck: a mishmash wrapped in a muddle wrapped in a mess.
He then goes on to provide examples of the flawed metadata.

Later he writes:
And while Google's machine classification system will certainly improve, extracting metadata mechanically isn't sufficient for scholarly purposes. After first seeming indifferent, Google decided it did want to acquire the library records for scanned books along with the scans themselves, but as of now the company hasn't licensed them for display or use....
Digital content needs to findable. We don't have the luxury of look at a shelf of hardcopy books and manually looking at the indexes and table of contents in order to find what we want. Online we rely on metadata and computer generated information. If those are flawed or non-existent, then the content may be unfindable. And if we can't find it, then having it online is meaningless.

Ken Lavender asked me on Friday about this specific article, which he had seen and couldn't re-find. Thanks for finding it and sharing it with me!

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