Echoing other conversations I’ve seen around the web (wait for 12/14 to post)….Scott pings the Big Concept that while the folks building Google now are clearly well intentioned, we are creating an asset in Google together that someday may be out of our collective control. In Salon’s blog, Scott Rosenberg comments:
But Google is a public company. The people leading it today will not be leading it forever. It’s not inconceivable that in some future downturn Google will find itself under pressure to “monetize” its trove of books more ruthlessly.
Today’s Google represents an extremely benign face of capitalism, and it may be that the only way to get a project of this magnitude done efficiently is in the private sector. But capitalism has its own dynamic, and ad-supported businesses tend to move in one direction — towards more and more aggressive advertising.
Since we are, after all, talking about digitizing the entire body of published human knowledge, I can’t help thinking that a public-sector effort — whether government-backed or non-profit or both — is more likely to serve the long-term public good. I know that’s an unfashionable position in this market-driven era. It’s also an unrealistic one given the current U.S. government’s priorities.