Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Google Staff Respond to Metadata Criticisms

- Google Books metadata team manager Jon Orwant has responded to Geoff Nunberg's Chronicle article (discussed here) and to his illustrated blog post on the same subject. It's a really fascinating comment, and I encourage all those interested in Google Books and digitization in general to read it in full. I don't want to cherry-pick quotes from it, because that wouldn't be fair - but I will say that it is very much a step in the right direction. I don't envy Orwant his job at all, and I certainly think he's got a very, very full plate. I admire him for coming out and talking this through, and I hope he'll continue to do so.

- Speaking from personal experience now, I can say that the Google Books team is responsive at the very least. I emailed them asking for help with this record, which (apparently) contains a phrase I'm most interested in, but the GB page for which does not provide any information which will allow me to actually access the book (my thinking is, if you're going to allow things to be searched, you ought to at least give people sufficient bibliographic information to actually locate the book somewhere, even if you can't provide the full text). An engineer wrote back and said "At this time, we are not able to provide you with additional information about this volume. I will shortly pass this information along to the rest of our team for review." I'm hoping to hear back eventually from someone. But at least I got a response. And hopefully it will prove productive in the end. Orwant and those he works with have really got a wolf by the ear, and more power to them to try and figure out what to do with it now.

- Meacnwhile, back at the ranch, the Open Book Alliance filed its brief yesterday in the Settlement case; you can read a snippet here or the whole thing here [PDF].

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