no stopping Google, is there?
for example, in addition to Google’s launch on the stock market, there
came two major announcements from everyone’s favourite search engine.
let’s look at
Scholar, a new way of searching for those on the prowl for
information of an academic nature. Google describes it (Nov. 18) as
Scholar enables you to search specifically for scholarly literature,
including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and
technical reports from all broad areas of research. Use Google Scholar
to find articles from a wide variety of academic publishers,
professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well
as scholarly articles available across the web.
with Google Web Search, Google Scholar orders your search results by how
relevant they are to your query, so the most useful references should
appear at the top of the page. This relevance ranking takes into account
the full text of each article as well as the article's author, the
publication in which the article appeared and how often it has been
cited in scholarly literature. Google Scholar also automatically
analyzes and extracts citations and presents them as separate results,
even if the documents they refer to are not online. This means your
search results may include citations of older works and seminal articles
that appear only in books or other offline publications.
service is not yet in full production, but response from university
circles and the like during its beta testing stage has been positive.
I’ve seen, however, by Google standards the coverage is quite modest so
far. On the other hand, it’s early days: let’s wait and see. No doubt
they’re working hard to improve the product and extend its coverage.
release (Dec. 14) also has a strong connection with academe — and an
overwhelmingly flimsier one with Bikwil. Had they been really as
omniscient as we’ve come to expect, those Google people might have
appreciated that their announcement harks back to something we published
here, exactly six years ago this month:
decades-old dream of access to the world’s library catalogues from home
is now surely, but slowly, coming true.
emphasised at the time that this promising message referred
. . . to catalogues,
not to the collections that catalogues describe and index. That was the
other dream: to do away with books, and is quite a separate issue, the
less said about which the better.
guess what? Google doesn’t see it that way.
it wants to wipe out the printed book. It just envisages a future when
you won’t have to deny yourself access to a particular book or
periodical because you can’t physically get to the sole library that
way it intends to achieve this is through a very ambitious scanning
effort. On the initial project Google is working with Harvard, Stanford,
the Universities of Michigan and Oxford and the New York Public Library
to digitize tens of thousands of pages a day at each library.
press release says,
over time will integrate this content into the Google index, to make it
searchable for users worldwide.
the librarians involved expect that the pilot project will take ten
years or more. And that’s just for starters.
not inconsequential matter of copyright, Google will set your mind at
rest when you read
parties will work conservatively within the laws . . . For copyrighted
works, Google [will] scan in the entire text, but make only short
excerpts available online.
in the public domain the full text will be available online.
care will be taken with the books, though Google executives aren’t
saying much what exactly the scanning technology will entail.
to the views of some sceptics, the five libraries were not
reluctant when Google approached them to collaborate. Keen, more like
it. For example, a librarian at the Uni of Michigan, John Wilkin, had
this to say:
people will worry that this is the beginning of the end of libraries,
but it is [what] we have to do to revitalise the profession and make it
so, there is lingering unease. According to the Salt Lake Tribune,
. . .
could herald the beginning of the commercialization of libraries, which
have long been trusted as an independent resource for knowledge without
the obvious trappings of marketing or goals of profit.
course, this Virtual Library undertaking of Google’s is hardly unique.
You’ll be quite familiar with the work of Project Gutenberg (here
and here), in all its
manifestations. And there are other similar Internet projects running,
many of them under the auspices of non-profit organisations. These
include the Internet Archive
and the University of
Pennsylvania’s Online Books Page.
Library of Congress has had for a while now an agreement with The
Internet Archive and libraries in the U.S. and overseas to create an
Internet digital archive of one million books.
way, its public float on the stock market earlier in 2004 naturally
brought Google a gigantic funds increase, and at the time people began
to wonder why the company had chosen to spend a lot of it on increasing
its disk storage and processing power from a mere 10,000 linked servers
to something like 80,000.
fact, I read somewhere that in toto they’ve spent
in the region of $250 million on computer hardware.