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Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, et al

Well it has been a busy week!
Microsoft started winding down both the Microsoft Live Academic Search and their book and journal digitization project, MS Live Search Book.
I believe that this is the result of a fundamental problem in the schizophrenic way MS approaches search. They don’t seem to know whether they are targeting enterprises like businesses and institutions or whether they are targeting consumers and end users.
Their alliances with the Open Content Alliance, to which a large number of libraries are a party, are now forced into a self funding model and a re-evaluation of any potential or predicted revenue from ads and sponsorships. Brewster Kahle of the internert Archive and OCA said this recently:
“The Internet Archive operates 13 scanning centers in great libraries, digitizing 1000 books a day. This scanning is financially supported by libraries, foundations, and the Microsoft Corporation. Today, Microsoft has announced that it will ramp down their investment in this area. We very much appreciate their efforts and funding in book scanning over the last 3 years. As a result, over 300,000 books are publicly available on the site that would not otherwise be.
“To their credit, they said they are taking off any contractual restrictions on the public domain books and letting us keep the equipment that they funded. This is extremely important because it can allow those of us in the public sphere to leverage what they helped build. Keeping the public domain materials public domain is where we all wanted to be. Getting a books scanning process in place is also a major accomplishment. Thank you Microsoft.
“Funding for the time being is secure, but going forward we will need to replace the Microsoft funding. Microsoft has always encourage the Open Content Alliance to work in parallel in case this day arrived. Let’s work together, quickly, to build on the existing momentum. All ideas welcome.”
“Onward to a completely public library system!”
Google seems to know it’s all about eyeballs. Google appears to be continuing well into its digitization efforts. Millions of books and thousands of publisher alliances in place already. Then again, they have been neglecting Google Scholar and use of Scholar has been dropping a lot in a world where ordinary search is increasing by double digit growth. What’s up? Are folks waiting for a new place to grow for scholarly work?
Then again, this could all be part of the wonderful orchestrated dance as Carl Icahn, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Google play nice in cutting up the search pie and the Cloud. Hmmm. Throw in Facebook’s market share in the academic world and the MS investment there . . . and AOL’s investment in Bebo . . . and MySpace and Dow Jones and Murdoch and it just gets . . .
Too interesting.
I think, like others, it’s all about the cloud and collaboration and online social networks.
One person last week said that no one will ever really accept commercial interests in the cloud or social networks. I said, yeah. I heard that one when the created the .com domain when everyone said no academic would every accept the commercial internet and web!
As I’ve said before, I don’t think we’ve heard the end of this story yet. It’s just beginning.
I am really looking forward to SLA and ALA to discuss these things in person. How’s that for hybrid irony!?

Posted on: May 26, 2008, 8:37 pm Category: Uncategorized

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