14. juli 2010

The Humanities Go Google

Authors and publishers have besieged Google's plan to digitize the world's books, accusing the company of copyright infringement. The legal limbo that has tied up a settlement of their lawsuits is hanging a question mark over universities' plans to build centers for research on the books Google scanned from their libraries. Another complication: Worrisome questions remain about the quality of Google's data, which may be less like the library of Alexandria and more like a haphazardly organized used-book shop.

But at Stanford, legal and technical headaches may be worth the sweeping rewards of becoming one of perhaps two places in the world to host the greatest digital library ever built. The university is planning to chase that prize—and the prestige, recruitment power, and seminal research that could come with it. So is HathiTrust, a digital library consortium whose leaders include the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Indiana University at Bloomington, and the University of California system.

"It's like the invention of the telescope," Franco Moretti, a Stanford professor of English and comparative literature, says of Google Books. "All of a sudden, an enormous amount of matter becomes visible."

Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education
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