Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Google Books

As a researcher I absolutely adore the power and ease of Google Books (if you haven't looked through it yet do so!)
As a writer, I can see there are many concerns with copyright and how writers' time, effort, thoughts, inspiration and dreams are to be supported in a world where money (and the acquisition of it) remains so important.
For all Google's efforts aimed at protecting authors' words; once a work is digitised it becomes so much harder to protect copyright.
Of course, the issue isn't so much protecting copyright, but protecting a business model that 'kinda' supports the ecosystem of words -- writers, publishers, editors, newspapers, libraries and everything else that goes along with it.
The other day, I got into a conversation with a librarian clearly distraught at the future of libraries. For him, the next big threat was the development of colour printers that could spit out copies of entire books in seconds. (I am not entirely sure, we will be going down this path anytime soon anyway. Printing requires paper and ink. Ecologically, there is a lot of incentive not to pursue this in a whole scale manner. As a niche though, of course, it will happen.)
And that is the point, of course. Do we embrace the potential of all this change and destruction creatively, or fight tooth and nail for what works now (or what worked once).

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