Monday, April 30, 2007

A historian's take on Google Books

Google may be neglecting quality control in its hurry to get out in front of the pack. Digitize in haste, repent in leisure? Thanks to Zachary Schrag for the link.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I posted this on one of our internal lists at H-Net and got this rather unfortunate response from the director of MATRIX...the humanities computing center and host of H-Net.

Matthew Gilmore

From: Mark Kornbluh


I'd like to comment on the review of Google Books posted on the
AHA blog. I've been at several meetings lately where similar views have
been expressed. What is missing in all of these critiques, from my point
of view, is a broader understanding of the potential of what Google is
doing. First of all, the universities that have provided Google with the
books to digitize will all be getting copies of the scans back from
Google. They are each planning major projects to make their digitized
books available. In doing this, these libraries are driven by their own
missions -- not by Google's -- They plan value added services that go
way beyond Google's commercial interests. These include scholars' and
students' toolboxes including citation linking. There is reason to
believe that the value of the Google Books effort will be significantly
enhanced by what these libraries will be doing with the digitized

Second, we also need to think about the scale of Google's efforts. Yes,
there are errors and limitations, but thanks to these efforts and those
of others, we will shortly have access to a scale of digitized books
that would otherwise still be far in the future. This will allow for
experimentation in text mining, tracking, and linking that has never
been possible before. No one knows to what extent new digital humanities
tools with enhance and change the humanities in the 21st century, but we
absolutely need databases like Google Books to develop these tools and
explore the future. (Google has offered its digital files for such

Mark Kornbluh
Director, MATRIX
Michigan State University