Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Cookie Before Dinner; Open Book Aliance, 8/31/09

Peter Brantley via Open Book Alliance; The Cookie Before Dinner:

"Last Friday, I was fortunate to participate in an event on the Google Book settlement and the Future of Information Access. Hosted by the UC Berkeley School of Information, the event brought together a couple hundred academic, legal, and industry minds to discuss the promise and the pitfalls of the controversial settlement proposal between Google, the Authors’ Guild, and the Association of American Publishers.

My takeaway from the panels and hallway conversations is that the academic and scholarly community – among the parties who would be most affected by this settlement – are fairly critical of the settlement proposal in its current form.

Four issues in particular kept cropping up during the panels – the utility of the service that Google says it will deliver; the diminished competition that will occur as a result of the de facto exclusivity offered by the settlement; significant privacy issues that are yet unanswered by Google; and the quality of the books and their descriptive metadata that Google intends to offer.

On the last point, Geoff Nunberg from the School of Information gave what may have been the most interesting and entertaining presentation of the day, highlighting a sampling of the errors in Google’s book scanning efforts to date. In his words, “GBS (Google Book Settlement) metadata are awful.”

Media coverage of the event highlighted the point that many in the academic community seem to agree on – while the digitization of books can offer tremendous benefits to all, there are better, fairer ways to go about making that future a reality. We don’t have to grab the cookie that’s offered to us before dinner."

No comments: