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Monday, December 03, 2007

Google Book Search

"Google's corporate philosophy is based on the model which brought them
success: organizing and giving away other people's content, creating space for advertisements in the process. The enormous success Google found with that model in the search engine business spurred it to try and impose it in every arena. In the Google worldview, content is individually valueless. No one page is more important than the next; the value lies in the page view.
And a page view is a page view, regardless of whether the page in question has a picture of a cat, a single link to another site, or the full text of Freakonomics. When all you're selling is ad space, the value shifts from the content to the viewer. And ultimately the content is valued at nothing.
And here, finally, is the larger problem posed by Google's actions.
Books are not in any important sense user-centric. Whether or not a book has readers matters little. Books stand on their own, over time, as ideas and creations. In the world of books, it is the ideas and the authors that matter most, not the readers. That is why the copyright exists in the first place, to protect the value of these created works, a value which Google is trying mightily to deny.


As much as any other American business, Google is the corporate embodiment of the Internet's first principles. And as with so much else on the Internet, the promise of Google Book Search lies somewhere off on the horizon, while the dangers it poses today are very real."


Hiawatha Bray
Technology Reporter
Boston Globe
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