16.2.05

Google Hype

I have a gmail account (ok, I have several) and I use Blogger. But, unlike the majority of my peers and colleagues and friends and acquaintences and - let's face it - the rest of the world, I don't use Google's search engine. I prefer Mamma and A9. Vivisimo is fun, too. I get better results with them and I'm not wasting my time. Just because you're well known doesn't mean you work well (if you want to take that as a reference to MS, go right ahead).

Then, last month, Google decided to up the ante by digitizing books. Lots of hype, lots of excitement: why would anyone need a library again? It'll all be on-line, right? Wrong. Copyright will limit the books to those published pre-1923 and some published after that date. It will be even more necessary to learn to weed the wheat from the chaff in terms of research: newer may not be better, but then, it very well might be. And what about Project Gutenberg?

As this month's Library Journal asks in Google Out of Print: "Will [Google] be satisfied with context-sensitive ad placements next to displayed books, with ads for antidepression medication shown next to Hamlet's soliloquy?" I doubt it. You shouldn't be, either, but for different reasons.

You should want a search engine that brings you relevant results. Like Amazon's "search inside the book" feature, you're going to lose with this one - context will be lost, reliability will be lost. And, most important, time - your time - will be lost.

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