In D-Lib magazine David Bearman provides an abstract of the argument Jean-Noël Jeanneney (President of the Bibliothèque nationale de France) presents in his Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge: A View from Europe (University of Chicago Press, October 2006). Jeanneney argues:

  1. Google’s selection skews “the world’s knowledge” toward English-language texts, especially those from the U.S. (For example, searches for Dante, Cervantes and Goethe find not the original texts but English translations.)
  2. Google snippets decontextualize texts, and the works presented so far are poor in visual quality.
  3. Google Books SERPS inappropriately rank results, perhaps with a bias toward results with commercial ramifications.
  4. There are dangers with the privitization of collective knowledge. Google has already shown a complicity with censorship in China.
  5. Google’s liberal interpretation of copyright laws may not fully respect the legal or moral rights of authors.

Bearman concludes his abstract by expressing his opinion that “Jean-Noël Jeanneney has done us all a service by reminding us to look under the hood and hold Google, and those providing content to it, accountable. In the two years since Google first announced its ambitions, I think the D-Lib community has largely given Google the benefit of the doubt; now that some results are visible and the implications are more clear, I think it’s time to publicly endorse open access to rights-cleared, high quality, scanned page images and reconsider the appropriate roles for academic and public institutions participating in commercial analogue heritage conversion efforts that don’t contribute to this end.”

this item first noted at if:book

In related news: a few months ago Google announced a new program, Google Purge, as part of “a far-reaching plan to destroy all the information it is unable to index.”