The Real Paul Jones

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King Ken, burning man again, Googlizing libraries

Paul, · Categories: General, Information Commons

King Ken in Orange
Max and Sean are graduating and leaving ibiblio to seek their fortunes. Before they left they gave me a delightful gift. I have had consumer lust for King Ken since I first saw him. I am still trying to understand why I feel like I should own a designer vinyl toy, but here I am with one and delighted to have him. I think of King Ken as comix sculpture.

The burning man of the White House is back in the news. This is the spy/informer/whatever Mohamed Alanssi who set himself on fire in front of the White House and almost in front of me last month. The NY Times reports that Alanssi will probably not testify against Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad, and his assistant who Alanssi aided by an FBI agent posing as a Black Panther (as in Huey Newton not as in the big cat) lured to Germany and eventually into US hands. I wrote about my experiences being nearby the Alanssi drama while in DC here
, here, and here.

The library and online world are all abuzz with the news that Google will be scanning in the contents of several major libraries (the University of Michigan, Harvard, Stanford and Oxford Universities, and the New York City Public Library) into their print.google.com product. A part of the Google goal is to seek patents for their scanning process and part is to lead the book searching market (lookout Amazon) and part is, honestly I believe, to “to unlock the wealth of information that’s only available offline and bring it online,” as Google Director of Product Management Susan Wojcicki has said. Despite the loss of the Kahle vs Ashcroft case, there are many many books and articles that can be preserved (in some sense, archivists bear with me), indexed and better accessed legally and digitally. Google are the folks to do the job for sure.
I have no idea how the Google project interacts with, replaces, or augments the plans and work of Project Gutenberg, archive.org’s scanning project or our local Documenting the American South project. I do think that the work of scanning and making the information (if not the knowledge) that is available in books more widely accessible is a great thing and now the bar is raised quite a bit. Thanks Google.

UPDATE: Just took a call from Michelle Kessler of USA Today about the Google scanning story. Tried to get in good words about Documenting the American South, Project Gutenberg and archive.org. We’ll see what, if anything, she uses tomorrow morning.

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