Monday, February 25, 2008

Brewster Kahle -post speech- blogpost

So Kahle's talk was very interesting. He seems like a quirky guy. While he was speaking up there I had glimpses of a Will Ferrell character, it's that side of the Ferrell characters that are serious in a funny way i think.

Kahle is the visionary behind the Internet Archive- a place where the idea of having all the world's information stored- is possible and now being put into motion. They are currently teamed up with the Library of Congress, and are in a race with Google for other libraries around the country to digitize all the books within. There is a cost for this, but it's not much in the grand scheme of things. For the cost of a nice car, you could have all the words in the Library of Congress digitized, Kahle pointed out. All over the country, staffers are scanning each page of each and every book, one by one.

His main idea is that, "Universal Access to ALL knowledge is within our grasp!"

And he did address the non-cuddly-ness of computer screen reading. The Internet Archive's Bookmobile has traveled around the world with a book-making machine inside so people can print their own books right from the machine! The BookMobile has even been to The National Library of Uganda where they also installed internet.

The archive has to deal with copyright issues, and so most of the content they have is from people who want to give away information, like the Grateful Dead. Starting in the 60's the Dead were all about the idea of letting people tape their shows- they wanted their music to be out there and accessible. Needless to say, they were all for it when Internet Archive told them they would host all of their music on the site, for free. This is their dream come true! The archive is eager to see more communities like the Dead community revolve around their site.

Is Google the Devil? Yes, pretty much so. In their method of digitizing books, Google is attempting to make the books private, by not allowing free use. "The idea of monopolizing information is the scariest thing, it's Orwelian," Kahle said.

This is why the Internet Archive is working really hard right now- to get ahead of Google. "Once something has critical mass it's harder to go head to head with it," said Kahle.

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