Information dissemination or knowledge management?

Information dissemination or knowledge management?

An insightful article by John Sutherland has made me reconsider what digital libraries/archives responsibilities are insofar as allowing users to be able to inform themselves with total freedom. The problem seems to be that when new technologies are implemented there is a lack in the management of the information and sound policy decisions on how to control the technology preventing abuse of power.

John Sutherland raises this issue that with the Google Library Project (GLP), Google may be able to take upon themselves to actively control the indexing of the millions of works they have digitized. He states,

As the president of the American Society for Indexing, Fred Leise, explained, the GLP indexes operate by means of what is called a “control vocabulary” assigned to every single text. Obviously, a brute-force word search through 5m vols looking for, say, “England” will come up with haystacks not needles. But who controls that control vocabulary, and the gateway to information? Google. And they who control it, control knowledge. Ask yourself, what would the Chinese government do with this tool?

Is this the role that indexing plays in digital databases of information? It does lighten the load of returned relevant material of general searches, but does this resource limit our ability to aquire the infomration we desire?

According to the first rule in the Library Bill of Rights, “Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves.” I think it is necessary to consider if we are giving up or trading some basic freedom of access to the information we have. Or, is it implied that with the huge increase in the amount of information available and the need for the tools to efficiently search and find needles in mountains of data, we also require stricter controls over how it is all managed?

Maybe Google is trying to make us stupid…

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