Google Library Expert on a Pod Cast

Fruitful discussion with Frances Haugen on the Library Gang Podcast (50 mins). She is an impressive spokes person for Google Book Search. She spoke well about Google Mobile and Catalogues and metadata (deep waters here). There were places where she had to be very careful about what she says (not allowed to talk about the Settlement before the judge’s ruling this summer). She stressed that they really have a lot to do now to make the Settlement work. There is real pressure now to deliver: “Unfortunately, there is a lot of things that legally we have to do in the next two years we do not have as much design freedom as might be ideal.”

In Frances’s discussion of the way the mobile service was developed I was struck by the sense that the Google implementation is something of a compromise and also hard to achieve (the page image is available at one remove). The text files developed for the Mobile application is enhanced, “very nuanced”: they needed to “understand what the text meant in the layout of the page” (eg to ignore headers and footers). We can be sure that there is a huge amount more that Google can and will do to find meaning and structure in texts and moving away from page layout may help this effort. It could also be that the decision to in large part omit illustrations and photographs from the Settlement-sanctioned commercial offerings has encouraged Google to move more towards a continuous text stream interpretation of the text. She was also quite cagey about whether they will do anything major in the near future about magazines and periodicals, but they clearly have long term ambitions in that space.

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