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Google is celebrating what would have been the 76th birthday of children's author Roger Hargreaves with a series of homepage doodles depicting characters from his popular Mr. Men and Little Miss books.
Google doodlers have crafted more than a dozen versions of the company's logo featuring the cartoon characters from Hargreaves' books, from Little Miss and Mr. Tickle to Mr. Happy and Mr. Messy.
Hargreaves' career as a children's book author started in 1971 when his young son asked him, "What does a tickle look like?" To explain, Hargreaves created Mr. Tickle, a small orange man with a big smile, tiny blue hat, and very long arms. That spawned five other characters—Mr. Greedy, Mr. Nosey, Mr. Happy, Mr. Bump, and Mr. Sneeze—the books for which were first published on August 10, 1971.
A judge’s derailment of Google’s plan to build a digital library and bookstore was seen by some scholars and librarians as a chance to pursue a better universal public library.
Like other authors and researchers, I'm conflicted about the project. On the plus side, the vision of a widely accessible digital library is a worthy one that is, for the first time in human history, technologically achievable.
On the other hand, Google was plotting to acquire effective control over millions of works whose copyrights belong to others.
Full article in the LA Times
The United States of America has a history of uniting its often uncooperative and sometimes antagonistic citizenry in profound and unthinkable ways when the country perceives an outside threat to its peace and safety.
For the most part, the recent history of this country has been one of success and prosperity, or at least one where the prosperous became more so, and because of that complacency spawned from prosperity, this country has never seen the need to create a National Digital Library. (Also, because Capitalism is good for America. I claim poetic license for hyperbole.)
[see: "Why We Can't Afford Not to Create a Well-Stocked National Digital Library System" or any of the other posts lamenting this American FAIL.]
But Google saw the need. Well, if not the need for the country, then the need for Google. As Google digitized books, it increased its digital domain and lay the groundwork for new continuous streams of ad revenue.
So Google did what the rest of the country could not and went ahead with the project. And the people cheered. Until some others pointed out what was really happening.
So now, in the most recent history, the hero of American and even worldwide book digitization, has been declared a villain as the Google Settlement was struck down in federal court. -- Read More
Op-ed by Robert Darnton in the NYT
ON Tuesday, Denny Chin, a federal judge in Manhattan, rejected the settlement between Google, which aims to digitize every book ever published, and a group of authors and publishers who had sued the company for copyright infringement. This decision is a victory for the public good, preventing one company from monopolizing access to our common cultural heritage.
Nonetheless, we should not abandon Google’s dream of making all the books in the world available to everyone. Instead, we should build a digital public library, which would provide these digital copies free of charge to readers. Yes, many problems — legal, financial, technological, political — stand in the way. All can be solved.
From the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Research Libraries See Google Decision as Just a Bump on the Road to Widespread Digital Access
By Jennifer Howard
Tuesday, a federal judge tossed out the proposed settlement in the lawsuit over Google's vast book-digitization project. Still, research libraries with a stake in that work said they were undeterred. They emphasized that widespread digital access is key to scholars' work, and reiterated their commitment to making as much material available to as many people as possible, whether or not the settlement is revived in some form. And they said they hoped the ruling, by Judge Denny Chin, would galvanize efforts to solve the vexing problem of orphan works, which are under copyright but whose rights-holders are unknown or unfindable......Read the rest here.
Adding another chapter to a long, drawn-out legal saga, a New York federal district court has rejected the controversial settlement in a class-action suit brought against Google Books by the Authors Guild, a publishing industry trade group.
As the wait for a decision on the Google Book Settlement approaches the one-year mark, PW talks with the author of the forthcoming book, The Googlization of Everything, about the Internet giant's expanding dominance.
Excerpt: In his new book, The Googlization of Everything: (And Why We Should Worry) (Univ. of California Press) Vaidhyanathan explores the young company's increasingly dominant role not just online but in our lives. "What is most fascinating about Google to me is its effect on us," the author tells PW. "Its effect on the media business is interesting, but I wanted to write a book that could inform a casual Google user about some of the hazards and habits of Google. In that sense, my book is much more about us than it is about Google. In fact, the critical faults of the story I tell are ours, because we've become so addicted to getting more stuff, faster, for free."
From the Wall Street Journal
By AMIR EFRATI
Google Inc., long considered the gold standard of Internet search, is changing the secret formula it uses to rank Web pages as it struggles to combat websites that have been able to game its system.
The Internet giant, which handles nearly two-thirds of the world's Web searches, has been under fire recently over the quality of its results. Google said it changed its mathematical formula late Thursday in order to better weed out "low-quality" sites that offer users little value. Some such sites offer just enough content to appear in search results and lure users to pages loaded with advertisements.
The defunct satirical publication that launched a thousand magazine careers and dodged a thousand lawsuits is now available digitally — thanks to Google.