After many years of blogging, and consistent with my desire to move toward retirement, we have ended the Insights blog. Thanks to Doug Bedell for his years of blog support.

Google’s Getting It All Down

Posted on December 28, 2010
Filed Under Technology | Leave a Comment

Like the ancient library at Alexandria, only moreso, Google wants to be the repository of all the world’s information and, for better or worse, it’s getting there. Comes word that Google has already scanned 15 million books, which represents 12 percent of all the books ever published.

From that mass of knowledge, opinions, history, descriptions and balderdash is emerging a digitalized history of mankind. A team at Harvard University has been analyzing Google’s knowledge trove and taken to calling it “culturomics”. (In case you ever stumble across this term, you’ll know now where it hails from. Aren’t they educating anyone at Harvard anymore?)

The Google Books dissectors have issued their first report and it’s a run-on cultural document. “Although it barely scratches the surface,” the Discover blog advises, ” it’s already a tantalising glimpse into the power of the Google Books corpus. It’s a record of human culture, spanning six centuries and seven languages. It shows vocabularies expanding and grammar evolving. It contains stories about our adoption of technology, our quest for fame, and our battle for equality. And it hides the traces of tragedy, including traces of political suppression, records of past plagues, and a fading connection with our own history.”

At least the Google library won’t need a zoning permit, which fortunately will be one less controversy in human history. We still view research and learning as underlining a phrase at a time, coming back to check the underlines and perhaps harvesting a lasting insight from them. But Google’s books keep flooding in. (And, of course, you can purchase them online.)  Stack them over there, guys. – Doug Bedell


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