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by Anne O’Sullivan
“The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite, perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries. In the center of each gallery is a ventilation shaft, bounded by a low railing. From any hexagon one can see the floors above and below – one after another, endlessly...I declare that the Library is endless.”
- Jorge Luis Borges, “The Library of Babel”
The Borgesian library, which is “perfect, complete and whole” and composed of “all books”, is not a far cry from reality in the digital age. Google has openly declared its intention of digitizing all the world’s information, and estimates it will take approximately 300 years to do so. Substitute Borges’ hexagonal galleries for Google’s server farms, and an eerie picture begins to emerge, one that should seem reminiscent from the pages of Genesis to which Borges alludes in his title.
Borges aptly names the library in his story after the Tower of Babel parable, wherein humankind, united by one language, has the hubris to build a tower to reach heaven. God strikes down the tower, and punishes the sinners by confusing their tongues, and dispersing them geographically (hence the origin of languages, and nations). For Borges, the Library of Babel comes out of this tradition; though the Library may contain all books, meaning is only made more elusive by the vastness of what the Library contains. -- Read More
NY Times: No Ruling At Google Books Hearing
Lawyers for authors, publishers, corporations and governments came to a New York court to challenge or hail a proposed deal over Google Inc's plans to digitize millions of books, but the judge said he would not rule on Thursday.
And from Publishers Weekly: At today's Google settlement fairness hearing, U.S. attorney William Cavanaugh slammed the Google settlement, telling Judge Denny Chin that the class action vehicle was inappropriate, and that the settlement "turned copyright on its head." Though the settlement may or may not offer tangible benefits, the U.S. attorney stressed, "procedural rules cannot be used to modify rights." He also told the judge that the Department of Justice has an active, "ongoing antitrust investigation" open on the settlement, suggesting that if the judge does approve the deal, DoJ intervention still could be a factor.
An (Updated) Wired.com FAQ on the Google Books Project and the fight over a settlement. Federal judge Denny Chin will have the difficult job of sorting that out Thursday, as he gives the second version of the Google settlement a “fairness hearing.”
I have met too many librarians who take a myopic approach to privacy. That is, privacy is so important to our members that we don’t even let them decide what information to keep or share. We just wipe all our records after some time so they don’t get caught up in the Patriot Act web. What’s worse, we feel that by creating an environment that protects privacy (by eliminating choice) we are protecting the members, when in fact the information they would expose to us is so inconsequential compared to their other activities it almost doesn’t matter.
On Sunday LISNEWS had a story about the search engine Aardvark. Aardvark, a social search company, is developing a new paradigm for Web searches that taps into social networks, not automated formulas, to provide answers to queries.
Today Aardvark has been purchased by Google. Story in the Washington Post.
Google book scanning: Cultural theft or freedom of information?
A proposed partnership between the French government and Google is stoking fears in France that the country's literary treasures will fall under commercial control of a U.S. technology company.
Since librarians are good at finding things (and people), you might want to consider adding Google Person Finder to your database.
Google has a crisis response group that quickly went into action after the quake in Haiti in January, coordinating with groups internally and externally, including governmental and non-governmental authorities. A crisis response page was soon posted at here.
It was realized there would be a need for a way to find out the status of family and friends who may have been impacted by the quake. As groups began to coalesce around this need, it was discovered that a Person Finder application had been created in the aftermath of the WTC attacks in 2001. Another was created in response to hurricane Katrina. Unfortunately, a quick survey showed these applications could not be revived in a short time.
However, they have since worked out the kinks and created a viable program. Google now cordially invites you to work with them in a coordinated effort to help the crisis relief efforts for the people of Haiti.
It appears that there are at least couple of companies in the book biz that are too big for their britches as the saying goes.
Publishers Weekly reports: The Department of Justice dealt a serious blow Thursday evening to the chances that the Google Book Search settlement will gain court approval later this month when it found that the revised agreement still raises class certification, copyright and antitrust issues. The DOJ said that despite “good faith” efforts to modify the agreement, “the amended settlement agreement suffers from the same core problem as the original agreement: it is an attempt to use the class action mechanism to implement forward-looking business arrangements that go far beyond the dispute before the court in this litigation."
The crew at Vulture Central (further known as British tech publication The Register) posted a report by Cade Metz about the continuing review of the proposed Google Books settlement. Metz notes that the US Department of Justice still finds as a fundamental problem to the settlement that it is using class action lawsuit mechanisms to do an overly far-reaching end-run of the legislative process so as to effect significant change in society.
Stanford signs Google Book Search agreement, endorses court settlement
"Stanford is on the cutting edge of technology development and is using technology to improve access to information not just for their faculty and students, but for the world," said Dan Clancy, Google Books engineering director. "Their early participation was important to the establishment of the Google Books project, and we’re very pleased that they have continued to support this effort and expanded their commitment under the terms of the settlement."