Wednesday, May 28, 2008

On the End of Microsoft Live Search Books

LISNews points out Nate Anderson's post at ars technica about the end of the Microsoft Live Search Books project, which I discussed last week. Anderson includes comments from Internet Archive head Brewster Kahle, whose organization received significant funding and support from Microsoft. Kahle said he's "disappointed," but he thanked Microsoft for getting the ball rolling and for agreeing to let libraries "keep the equipment that they funded. This is extremely important because it can allow those of us in the public sphere to leverage what they helped build. Keeping the public domain materials public domain is where we all wanted to be. Getting a books scanning process in place is also a major accomplishment."

Anderson adds that Kahle is "a firm believer in the idea that corporations should not be the entities we trust to provide access to important cultural data stores. If people think that corporations are the right way to access the history of human discourse, Kahle says they're in for 'a series of very rude shocks.'"

In an OCA announcement, Kahle notes "Funding for the time being is secure, but going forward we will need to replace the Microsoft funding. Microsoft has always encourage[d] the Open Content Alliance to work in parallel in case this day arrived. Lets work together, quickly, to build on the existing momentum. All ideas welcome."

Hope springs eternal, I suppose - I'd like to share Kahle's optimism that full funding (from whatever sources) will be obtained, and quickly, in order to keep up the current pace of digitization.