Human history is full of cause and effect relationships. The 21st Century is no exception.
In 1439, when the the movable-type press was invented, its use to print and distribute literature, to the common people, encountered great amounts of opposition from the traditionalist forces, namely the Catholic church. Less than 100 years later, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the doors of his local church, making a triumphant stand for his own ability to think for himself and setting the events of the Protestant Reformation into motion.
Today, Internet giant Google encounters opposition from many as it pushes to make books and texts more accessible to over the Internet through it’s Google Books Library Project. Perhaps this opposition to Google’s project is a last ditch effort by publishers, news agencies and authors to preserve their own vitality in a world where they are quickly becoming the information middle-man. As the distribution of information has become more comprehensive and more easily accessible, there has been a rise in citizen journalism and citizen’s correction of journalism.
On Wednesday, October 6, the New York Times printed the article “In E-Books, It’s an Army vs. Google.” This article focused on Google’s negative publicity and gave very little information on Google’s support and where it comes from. Nor did the article mention successful projects, like Project Gutenberg, that have similarities with Google Books Library Project and have been largely successful. The article also used the word “ambitious” more than once to describe Google’s plan. (I wonder if the writer of this article looks as much like Brutus as he sounds…)
But, why would the NYTimes put such a negative spin on a project meant to benefit humankind? Newspapers have suffered a few too many injuries from citizen journalists, like Little Green Footballs, who uncover journalism’s flaws like Reutergate and the Killian Document Controversy (a.k.a. Rathergate). The more accessible information becomes to proactive bloggers the harder it becomes for even the most prestigious of newspapers to provide the public with pertinent and accurate information that they are willing to pay for.
Are projects like Google’s and citizen journalists like Charles Johnson bringing about a news reformation? I think so.