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Google’s intention to digitize all the world’s books a good thing?

I always challenge myself to be a better person. I also challenge myself to learn something new whether it be a hobby or a course. The opportunity to learn something new came when Coursera opened a six-week course on Understanding Media by Understanding Google. Online media has been my life ever since I turned to blogging in 2006. The course syllabus was really interesting but could I go through the discipline of quizzes, and peer-graded assignments? That I had to see. The online course started on September 16 and I knew it would be a busy month due to my anti-pork activities. There were times I could barely catch up with my readings and cramming everything in one day.

The good news is I finally finished six weeks. Yes, Today I submitted my quiz and essay for week six. I am not sure I will get a high grade but I am sure to pass as I believe the past five weeks have given me satisfactory scores in my quizzes and perfect scores in peer graded assignments.

With all that behind, I’d like to share some of the essays I wrote for this course. But before that , let me explain the rationale of this course.

Most of you know that Google Inc. is one of the key success stories of the Internet era. When I first heard of Google in the late nineties, it was only meant to be a search business. Through innovation and acquisition, Google has touched the lives of nearly every person who lives life online. For instance, Americans spend more than 3,400 hours per year using consumer media, the field where Google’s impact is most profound. I don’t have data for the Philippines but I can safely say that Google is the number one search engine. Citizens of the world increasingly must understand what the company has wrought not only to manage their offline and online environments, but also to interact and engage successfully with anyone in their professional and personal lives.

It is through understanding Google that we can begin to understand media.

google books

The first peer-graded assignment was about Google books. Here is the question.

Is Google’s intention to digitize all the world’s books a good thing or a bad thing, and for whom? Carefully cite at least two sources from the readings or lectures in support of your answer, which should be no more than 300 words in length.

Here is my essay:

 It is my dream that people from developing countries have access to open knowledge. As a little girl, I poured over the encyclopedia series that my father bought for us.  I believe access to books at an early age piqued my curiosity about the world, science and arts. Imagine if every child around the world had access to books at their fingertips.

It is my belief that Google ‘s intention to digitize the books is a good thing because it will provide readers’ “access to millions of books they currently can’t find or have trouble getting through libraries.”

In  countries like the Philippines where I live, public libraries are not available to many cities and even if available, the collection of books is very limited.  Having books within reach will  produce “generations of avid readers and a knowledgeable, engaged citizenry.”  With the digitized copies available online, anyone with access to a network can search for books and get it quicker since Google is known for its greater search results and efficiency. Even if the digital divide is wide in our country, the government will soon  provide internet access to schools with personal computers and tablets. Students can then easily browse the web and search for books to do their research.

Google books will never be a replacement of a traditional library.  Students should still be able to borrow books from the school library. I view digitized books as an alternative when the printed version is not readily available.  I hope to see Google’s digitized books  shared with a   universal library that is established to “make all knowledge available to all citizens” around the world.

What do you think?

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