Tuesday, July 04, 2006

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

Jeanneney, Jean-Noël.
Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge: A View from Europe.
Translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan. Foreword by Ian Wilson.
Cloth $18.00, ISBN 0-226-39577-4, Fall 2006, 96 pp.

According to the publisher:
Jean-Noël Jeanneney, president of France'’s Bibliotheque 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. This danger is made evident by a Google book search the author discusses here -- one run on Hugo, Cervantes, Dante, and Goethe that resulted in just one non-English edition, and a German translation of Hugo at that. An archive that can so easily slight the masters of European literature -- —and whose development is driven by commercial interests -- cannot provide the foundation for a universal library.
Since the book is not yet available in English, people can only react to what the publisher has said or read the French version. For example, there is a review/commentary on the book and other reactions here.

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