The Google program that ran on PBS in Chicago on July 12th, a film called "The World According to Google" was surprising.
Instead of celebrating the behemoth, it dug into assessing the scope of the enterprise, questioning the right of one company to collect all the world's information. I've long suspected Google and other big internet firms were on that path.
I listened with interest as Brewster Kahle, the man who made a fortune with the Alexa search engine, and founded the Internet Archive in 1996 discussed the issue. Unlike Google, the Internet Archive purpose is: "offering permanent access for researchers, historians, and scholars to historical collections that exist in digital format."
There's an interesting interview with Brewster Kahle on SecondLife.com.
The business model for Google is sound: give information away for free, get money from advertisers. But who owns that information? We do. And, while it is clear that large internet companies collect user data, they are also giving that information away, either through strategic alliances, or if the government demands it.
Do you want all your private photos, email , address, web search history and files on your computer archived forever by them? And given or sold to others?
The Internet archive has received a grant to challenge Google Library's right to own digital book rights. See CNET http://www.archive.org/iathreads/post-view.php?id=73142.
Are you still with me? Contrary to Google's efforts to capture and digitize books from the world's libraries, the Open Content Alliance, is a joint effort by the Internet Archive, Yahoo and Microsoft to digitize library collections, including those of the University of California system and The University of Toronto. Unlike a similar project from Google, which allows users to read the digitized content only through Google's Web site, the OCA material will be searchable through any service and everyone will be encouraged to download books.
Who's to say Google will always live by its 'do no evil' motto, once they compile more information than any other source?
Who's to say what is free on the web today won't suddenly require prices once needed information is locked up by a corporation?
I'm only asking the questions, here. I don't have the answers, but hope you'll spend a few minutes noodling the ethical dilemma posed by the problem.
Tech news at cclarity.blogspot.com