History, Politics and Current Events, Reviews

Review: Jeanneney, Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge

jacket imageJean-Noel Jeanneney’s Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge is a startlingly incisive diatribe against the Google Library Project—Google’s initiative to digitize and electronically distribute the holdings of several of the world’s major libraries. Yet, as several recent reviews have noted, standing in the way of Google’s multi-billion dollar enterprise is not likely to make you popular—or rich. Writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer Carlin Romano praises Jeanneney’s subversive project remarking that Jeanneney provides “a take on world Googlization that you’re not likely to get from your broker.” And indeed David Ng writing for Forbes magazine seems to agree when he writes:

Every conversation needs at least two voices. This slim volume…provides a crucial dissenting opinion in a world where the mere mention of Google (or, rather Google’s money) can act as a conversation ender. The Google war chest has all but secured dominance over smaller library efforts, like the author’s own project to digitize the French National collection. History judges societies by how they treat their most disadvantaged members. This book asks only that the Google economy be held to the same standard.

Shedding new light on the darker side of Google, Jeanneny’s book is a timely and important comment on the digital age.