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Google Books, Scholar and Good Enough

Steve Arnold, one of my favourite industry iconoclasts and the author of several books about Google, gave the keynote at NFAIS on June 26th. I wish I’d been there but he has put his speaking notes up on his blog, Beyond Search. In this speech he speculates about what Google’s endgame is. They’re worth a read.
Google Books, Scholar and Good Enough
Here are his conclusions as a teaser. Read the whole speech.
“In closing, will there be a sequel to this epic battle between Google and its challengers? I have no idea. I can offer three closing observations:
First, Google has a system that works a bit like Lego blocks. Services, even information, can be snapped together. It is, therefore, imperative that those who want to understand Google look beyond advertising, Web search, and the squabble over Google Books. The company can morph without warning. This makes Google a very formidable competitor. How long would it take Google to become a publisher and resolve copyright by asking me to “publish” my next study for Google, for distribution by Google, and for monetization by Google. In my case, not long at all. My traditional publishers are struggling and their woes impact my financial future. Maslow’s hierarchy comes into play, not a love of tradition.
Second, those fighting Google have to recognize that Google is not a small company. Forget the lava lamps. Google can be a dominant force in certain battles. Without resources, fighting Google can be a difficult proposition. Viacom has been chasing Google for years. What’s the status? Stalled by legal maneuvers. This is an arena for those with considerable funds, lawyers, and stamina. European legal challenges may be contentious. Google Books is not deep linking. Google Books is a large dataspace.
Third, I am pragmatic. For years, I have been urging publishers to surf on Google. Now “wave” has another meaning. Google’s newest technology can engulf some organizations. For some, Google presents an opportunity for a thrilling ride. For libraries faced with funding pressures, Google offers one way to obtain digital instances. For scholars, something good enough may have to do. For others, Google represents a powerful force that can change landscapes. Like some natural forces, Google operates slowly. Are we discerning what is truly significant about Google Books? Are we watching a minor feature, not the major thrust of the activity? I am trying to get the right perspective. Are you?”
Steve always looks beyond what’s happening now and sees the potential consequences and scenarios. He’s always interesting.


Posted on: June 28, 2009, 12:54 pm Category: Uncategorized

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