Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Google Is (Not) Our Dear and Glorious Leader

Anyone catch the reference in the title? Anyone?

Anyway, it looks like Google has been thwarted in its plans to basically digitize every book ever made in order to make them more easily accessible to the public. Apparently Google has never heard of things like bookstores, libraries, online shopping, or garage sales, which is where most people easily access their books.

Exhibit A: A library

I have an issue with the idea of a universal library because I for one don't wish to see the entire universe become digital. No one goes to the movies anymore because they can just download films from home. No one buys CDs anymore because of iTunes or other more nefarious and far less legal means of obtaining music. We're already seeing bookstores (read: Borders) having to file bankruptcy partly because of the advent and wide-spread use of e-readers. Is it just me or does it seem like this is all part of some elaborate plan to starve out writers and musicians? What's next: digitally created artwork that you can just view on your computer instead of having to go to a museum? Oh...wait. That's pretty much happened already.

In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury envisioned a future where books were made illegal and were burned in order to keep the population stupid and continuously staring at large screens on their walls that fed them misinformation and kept them in line. Call me a sensationalist conspiracy theorist, but are we that far off from a world like that? Maybe not the whole books-are-illegal thing, but the media today acts as one big IQ drain (Jersey Shore, anyone?).

This woman "wrote" a "book". What the hell happened to the world?

We've become so dependent on computers, televisions, cell phones, and whatever new gadget that Steve Jobs decides to swindle people into buying that it's hard to imagine how we ever lived without them. I have a cell phone and a computer and an iPod, but I use maps instead of GPS and books instead of e-readers. I'm not saying that I'm superior. I, too, am a consumerist whore. But I feel like a line needs to be drawn somewhere.

For me, books are that line. Google may feel that they are doing something beneficial (although, most likely they're thinking that this can make them money somehow) but all the digitalization of libraries would do is to give one more reason not to leave your house anymore. We have become a culture that doesn't know how to interact with each other without the aid of some sort of a device.

We have, in essence, become cyborgs--human bodies with computer brains. We don't know any phone numbers anymore because they're all stored in our phones. We don't meet up for coffee as much because we can just call people and talk to them as long as we want to using our "anytime minutes". Hell, instead of just looking out the window in the morning, I check my phone to see what the weather's like. We all do it. But do we have to do it with everything?

This was supposed to be a picture of a cyborg
but I couldn't find one I liked, so here's a picture
of a cylon because they're cooler than cyborgs.

I say no. It's one reason why I refuse to buy an e-reader. In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that I did download the Kindle for PC app onto my computer, but only because there are a few books that I wanted to read that aren't available in print. Any ones that are, however, with very few exceptions, I will purchase at a real live bookstore or borrow from a physical library. You know, one that actually occupies a space in real life.

So, I applaud the judge who ruled against Google. While this case was all about money and copyright laws, I see it as a win for those of us who don't want the entire world to end up on a tiny device that we can stick in our pockets.


PS: Congrats to Albert over at Free Book Reviews for being my tenth follower! You don't win anything tangible but I'm going to tell everyone to go check out your blog and free publicity is always nice. :)


  1. Cylon? Really? Cylon? Since when do those exist?

  2. Cylons don't have to be real to be awesome. And all the pictures that I found of cyborgs sucked. :)