Thursday, September 3, 2009

Google's Book Search: A Disaster for Scholars

Google's Book Search: A Disaster for Scholars - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education

... The quality of Google's book search will be measured by how well it supports the familiar activity that we have come to think of as "googling," in tribute to the company's specialty: entering in a string of keywords in an effort to locate specific information, like the dates of the Franco-Prussian War. For those purposes, we don't really care about metadata—the whos, whats, wheres, and whens provided by a library catalog. It's enough just to find a chunk of a book that answers our needs and barrel into it sideways.

But we're sometimes interested in finding a book for reasons that have nothing to do with the information it contains, and for those purposes googling is not a very efficient way to search...
The article is worth reading. It highlights some of the pitfalls and errors, especially in terms of dating and categorizing resources, that Google Books is embedding in its metadata while digitizing books. I totally agree... but I also figure that a lot of that stuff would be totally unavailable to me without Google Books. Moral of the story: The thorough scholar will continue to need to be diligent.

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