Coming to a theatre near you – “Google and the World Brain” – a documentary film about Google’s drive to scan all the world’s books. Many have imagined a giant index or brain – H G Wells proposing a “world brain” of the world’s knowledge, Vannevar Bush’s ideas about retrieval of knowledge (As we may think), and Ted Nelson who coined the word hypertext. Google is well on its way to creating that world. But, as some ask, at what cost?
Lewis’ documentary starts in 1937, when H.G. Wells predicted the creation of a “world brain” — a giant global library containing the sum of human knowledge. Once built, Wells believed, the library would give rise to a higher form of intelligence. Google began scanning books in 2002, relatively early in its history, working with major university libraries around the globe. By 2005 the company had scanned more than 10 million books, with more than half of them still protected by copyright. In the autumn of that year, the Author’s Guild filed a class action lawsuit against Google, seeking damages for its writers and new protections for digital copies of copyrighted works.
Casey Newton reported on the film – Documentary throws the book at Google scanning project, CNet (Jan 25)
Watch the trailer.