CIRCA:Kelly, Kevin "Scan This Book!"

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In his article, "Scan This Book", Kevin Kelly discusses the Universal Library that Google is trying to set up. Google began this project in 2004 when they started digitally scanning all the works in five major research libraries. This Universal Library could eventually contain a copy of every book and article ever written, a copy of every painting, photograph, film and piece of music produced by all artists, every radio and television broadcast ever created, and every website and blog ever created. In short, Google plans to create a complete library of all the works of humankind from the beginning of recorded history.

However, the scanning process is not cheap. Although much of the world's music is digitalized already, hundreds of thousands of books remain to be digitalized. Stanford University (one of the major five universities working with Google) has begun scanning its library using a state of the art robot which automatically scans the page then flips to the next page. However, just like the global economy, getting books scanned in China is much cheaper than in the United States. Therefore, many books are boxed up and shipped to China to undergo scanning there.

Once the Universal Library is complete, readers will be able to access any book as if they were at a book store or library. As an aide to research, readers will be able to tag books, words or sentences allowing anyone to search for tags across many books. One major setback to this project is copyright law, especially with lost or forgotten books where the copyright is vague and no one knows who owns copyright. Despite this setback, Google still plans on scanning the books and will allow any author to remove his or her art without question. Google plans to work with publishing companies with books still in print - Google will only provide snippets of the work and refer the reader to the publisher where they can buy the actual book.

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