…isn’t the ‘type ahead’ beta noted yesterday. It’s the library story!
As the Financial Times reports, Google, the leading service for finding information on the internet, yesterday set out ambitious plans to become a catalogue and digital library for world literature.
It said it had struck a deal with four leading university libraries and the New York Public Library to scan digitally tens of millions of books from their collections so that users worldwide could search through them using the Google service.
While company officials presented the move as a philanthropic gesture, they also admitted there would be revenue opportunities and that the increased quality of their search results would maintain Google’s advantage over its rivals

I remember the awe of sitting in the main reading room of the NY Public Library as a kid; the serendipitous joy of wandering the stacks in university libraries, looking for one thing and finding quite another out of the corner of my eye (but influenced by the intended search), and the thrill of finding myself virtually in the stacks at the University of Singapore the first time I used ‘gopher’ (was that in the early 80s?)
And now Google moves us closed to the dream of the universal library.
Someone on NPR today observed that when Google’s IPO threatened something like this, people thought it was just a combination of geek fantasy and dotcom posture. Instead, it could turn out to be a major cultural milestone. As Dave Winer would say, ‘Kuwuhl!’


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