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December 17, 2004 / jnolen

The Google Library Initiative

The perfect search engine would be like the mind of God.

So Google announced that they are going to start scanning the contents of some of the worlds' best libraries. It's just a beginning, but it's a good beginning.

Two unconnected thoughts:

  1. It would be really, really cool if Google decided to do high quality, graphical scans of the really important books. Take a look at what Octavo is doing. This is brilliant, and hugely important. Civilization's most important books should be available in their original format. But since not everyone has access to the Yale Rare Book & Manuscript Collection, they can have this instead. I know people who would say that this is simply not good enough, and that it can't possibly compare to holding the real, physical book in your hand. But an Octavo version gets 90% of the way there. And that's 90% closer to a Gutenberg Bible than 99.99% of us will ever be.
  2. Amazon is in the middle of their own book-scanning project. Someone said a couple of days ago that Amazon and Google would, of course, never collaborate on this kind of effort. I was forced to ask, "why not?" Google sells advertising on webpages. Amazon sells books. It would be in Amazon's interest to contribute their scanning efforts. The more books that are searchable, the more books people will buy. The Long Tail tells us so. It would be in Google's interest to make more search results webpages available no which to sell advertising. And the two companies already have a semi-friendly relationship — see A9, results provided by Google. [Aside I have yet to see any additional value in A9.]

Also, Scoble points to a great article trying to guess at Google's strategy over the next few years, and at what's going to happen when Google and Microsoft really throw down. (How can they not?) The best quote:

So what should Google do? Given Microsoft’s ferocity in the past, panic might be a productive first step.

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