France’s Top Librarian Attacks Google Online Library

TechNewsWorld reports that The National Library of France is not happy with Google’s effort to scan and integrate millions of books into its Web search. Jean-Noel Jeanneney, President of the library, wrote in an editorial that he is concerned Google’s initiative to digitalize volumes at five leading libraries will reflect a unipolar worldview dominated by the English language and American culture:

“I favor a multi-polar view of the world in the 21st century,” he told the agency.

“I don’t want the French Revolution retold just by books chosen by the United States.”

France’s top librarian wants Europe to develop its own online library program and Internet search engines in order to protect French and other European languages and culture from American influence.

The fear is that Google, being an American company, will focus mainly on English-language books and American interpretations on events. Further, as a commenter at Slashdot noted:

there is a point to be made here about the state of the internet in general. nearly half of the world’s population are indian or chinese. they have cultures and histories longer and deeper than that of western europe and certainly north america. yet, on the web those cultures are all but invisible. history, it seems, will no longer be “written by the victor” but “written by those with a broadband internet connection”.

While its easy to poke fun at what appears to be yet another Internet-related French identity crisis, there are large issues at play here, including the hegemony of the West in general, and the United States in particular, in the creation & distribution of content on the Internet, the pervasiveness of Google, and the general implications of the Googlization of more and more of the world’s information.

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