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Google Abandons Plan To Archive World's Newspapers 60

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-google-a-word-you-don't-know dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Throughout the past few years, Google's newspaper-scanning project has digitized more than 60 million pages from newspapers spanning 250 years, including such gems as the moon landing. But according to the Boston Phoenix, this ambitious effort is slated to soon be axed in favor of Google One Pass, a platform for publishers to monetize content from their own sites."
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Google Abandons Plan To Archive World's Newspapers

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  • What?!? (Score:3, Funny)

    by d3vpsaux (587601) on Friday May 20, 2011 @12:55PM (#36193142)

    Google wants to help others make money (and make a little themselves) with one of their projects?

    Forget Google search, I'm going with BING instead. Microsoft would never do this!

    • by gnick (1211984)

      Let's examine 2 business models:
      1) Do a bunch of really neat stuff that everyone will like at great expense and give it away for free.
      2) Find a way to make a reasonable profit by providing useful services.

      I know which model I'd pick and don't even consider it 'being evil'.

      • Re:What?!? (Score:5, Informative)

        by hedwards (940851) on Friday May 20, 2011 @01:13PM (#36193356)

        I've got a feeling that this has more to do with them not being able to secure rights to the newspapers. At least for the more recent ones they would require authorization to do so from the copyright owner. I'm not sure why the older ones aren't being scanned though. Perhaps that's a matter of Google needing access and most of those papers being held by the newspapers that published them originally.

        • by cthulhu11 (842924)
          Perhaps someone alerted them to the fact that nobody under 60 cares about newspapers. Given how Googlers are sent to Carousel when they turn 30, I'm surprised they didn't understand that up front.
      • by blair1q (305137)

        1.9) Do a bunch of really neat stuff that everyone will like at great expense and sell ad space next to it.

        This is what Google actually does, and it makes a metric assload of money doing it.

        Apparently, it's hired a beancounter who's convinced himself to propose this:

        2.1) Find a way to make even more profit by paywalling content.

      • by c0d3g33k (102699)

        I'm totally in favor of model 2.

        The problem lies in what 'reasonable' means, which IMHO is the basis for most of the conflict involving "intellectual property". Reasonable to me means fair compensation for those 'useful services' as they are rendered. The problem is that such compensation is continually being pushed towards "maximum compensation in perpetuity", which seems entirely unreasonable. Most people interpret the latter as "greed", particularly since the vast, vast majority of humanity is NOT com

        • Most people interpret the latter as "greed", particularly since the vast, vast majority of humanity is NOT compensated in perpetuity for the very useful services they provide, once they have done so. The evil is not the desire to receive fair compensation, the evil is continually demanding payment beyond the point where fair compensation has been delivered.

          One can say the same about doctors.

          They keep you well enough to be able to not die and keep working so you can keep paying, but sick enough to keep comin

    • by akayani (1211810)
      BING you must be joking are you an MS plant? The only way I can even find stuff on MSes website is using Google. BING is the most useless piece of turd shit I've ever seen. It is the IE of search... total crap.
  • by saleenS281 (859657) on Friday May 20, 2011 @12:55PM (#36193148) Homepage
    So what happens when some of those publications inevitably go out of business? We lose all of their works forever? I would hope that google could come up with some sort of middle ground. Why not continue the archival process, but allow companies still in business to choose what content is free, and what requires a fee or ads? There has to be a way that the companies can profit while still protecting us from losing the information permanently...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 20, 2011 @01:00PM (#36193206)

      Google won't exist forever, what happens to the data then?
      They should be taking lessons from the Stanford LOCKSS project.

    • Libraries (Score:5, Informative)

      by pavon (30274) on Friday May 20, 2011 @01:10PM (#36193318)

      In addition to being archived by the newspaper company, most local newspapers are already archived by local libraries as microfiche/microfilm. This is often required by law, as public notices are required to be placed in newspaper, and a record of this must be kept. Important national newspapers are archived by the Library of Congress, as well as multiple other libraries, where they are also digitized.

      This is where Google got their source data to scan/upload in the first place.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        In addition to being archived by the newspaper company, most local newspapers are already archived by local libraries as microfiche/microfilm.

        The value added by Google was that the text has been OCRed and indexed.

        • See my comment to the parent. Half a dozen global vendors have already digitized and full-text indexed decades if not centuries of newspapers (depending on the importance and history of the paper). No matter how good OCR gets, it won't surpass the work already done by real humans doing data entry, transcription, and correcting OCR by hand.
          The value added by Google is potentially offering this incredibly expensive effort of preserving information for free.

      • Librarians actively work on finding excuses they can use to send archives of paper records to the shredder. Google facilitates this. Then Google 'changes their mind' about their goals.

        But all the paper is already pulped, so the problem is 'solved' for the librarians.

        • by KenSeymour (81018)

          Newsprint turns yellow fairly quickly. A physical newspaper is not designed to last. So making an image on Microfilm and/or digital archive is what's important.

          Before I looked it up, I thought Ben Franklin had started public libraries in the US. That is partly true. He started one public and one private (subscription) library.
          Both still exist. Andrew Carnegie started many other public libraries.

          So US public libraries have received both public and private funding. Google could choose to continue the tr

        • by vtrhps (556252)
          Nicholson Baker's erroneous argument that libraries are gleefully destroying newspapers and other older documents has been refuted [arl.org] again [archivists.org] and again [worldcat.org].
          • It's no surprise that the librarians' websites have vigorously disagreed. I imagine you could like to even more of their sites if you wished.

      • Libraries around the world also pay large amounts of money to vendors that have already digitized AND full-text indexed decades if not centuries of newspapers.
        ProQuest, Gale, EBSCO, Infotrac, Newsbank...
        I expect those vendors made a bit of a stink that Google was trying to put them out of business.

        • Libraries around the world also pay large amounts of money to vendors that have already digitized AND full-text indexed decades if not centuries of newspapers.
          ProQuest, Gale, EBSCO, Infotrac, Newsbank...
          I expect those vendors made a bit of a stink that Google was trying to put them out of business.

          It used to be legal to provide a service other companies were providing already - even though that cut into their profits.

          It was called competition.

          Now with the DMCA, MPAA, RIAA, Homeland Security (the new content

    • by c0d3g33k (102699)

      So what happens when some of those publications inevitably go out of business? We lose all of their works forever?

      Let them vanish from the face of history. We can't preserve every jot and tittle of every utterance from every publication throughout history (yet), and using the attitudes of the parent companies as a filter seems like a decent way to filter out the kruft in via "natural selection" of information. Information sponsored by companies who have a genuine interest in adding to the historical record is preserved, information sponsored by companies only interested in short term profit is forgotten forever. Go

      • Information sponsored by companies who have a genuine interest in adding to the historical record is preserved

        History is written by the victors

        Given that attitude, no software would survive from companies that have gone out of business, since there is nothing of commercial
        value there.

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          And that is different from what we have now....how exactly? Abandonware sites gets run off or shut down all the time, try selling a disc of abandonware with DOSBox preset for running it and see how quickly the corps shut you down. If someone can't squeeze maximum profits from an IP then nobody is allowed to have it and groups like the BSA will go after abandonware even by corps that have long since gone tits up.

          The ultimate goal should be pretty obvious to anyone by now, to lock the world behind a paywall.

    • by KenSeymour (81018)

      Newspaper articles about the 1969 Moon Landing is (was?) on microfilm in different libraries around the world -- unless every single one of them tossed it all out.

      Then there is the Library of Congress.

      Ironically, if newspapers from the past are not conveniently available online, it increases the value of microfilm or digital media that each local or university library keeps. That makes them less likely to be tossed out.

      In the near future, can people wait for authors and researchers to visit libraries, use

      • by Al Kossow (460144)

        In the near future, can people wait for authors and researchers to visit libraries, use a machine to review the material, combine their own analysis info
        a book or article in a monthly magazine?

        The short answer is "NO"
        It is much more efficient for a researcher to search OCRed indexed content.
        You can literally save years of time researching a topic if documentation and artifacts are available somewhere on-line.
        It also helps with peer review. You can now reference hundreds of documents that reviewers may not have physical
        access to.

      • Re:Short-sighted... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@nosPam.gmail.com> on Friday May 20, 2011 @02:56PM (#36194376) Homepage

        Newspaper articles about the 1969 Moon Landing is (was?) on microfilm in different libraries around the world -- unless every single one of them tossed it all out.

        Funny story about that... A friend of mine was studying old newspapers in the microfilm collection at his university, and found that several key issues of one paper were missing. He didn't think this would be a problem, as it was a semi-important newspaper and was thus archived at multiple libraries across the state. So off he went to the other libraries and found the same dates missing in every library. He checked a couple of out-of-state libraries... and no matter where he checked they were all missing the same issues.
         
        Turns out one company had microfilmed one libraries collection - and the others had all bought the microfilm and trashed their paper copies and nobody had ever actually verified that the microfilm represented a complete run.
         
        So, just because the "backups" are distributed is no guarantee they are complete.

        • by adolf (21054)

          Turns out one company had microfilmed one libraries collection - and the others had all bought the microfilm and trashed their paper copies and nobody had ever actually verified that the microfilm represented a complete run.

          Well now, that's a perfectly reasonable explanation.

          But I, for one, blame the Illuminati.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In socialist Germany we have a government-run library that archives all German-language print-publications. Submission is mandatory (with a few excepts for low print runs and the likes). No need to rely on the good-will of short-lived corporations.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_National_Library

  • Some people will complain, but this was inevitable. Business-wise, it's silly to throw this much opportunity into the "free" sphere. Rupert Murdoch was right about this; "Content isn't King, it's Emperor ". If content is your business, then giving it all away is a great way to go broke fast. Ad revenue will only go so far. If it's good enough, people will pay for content.

    • People seem to make the mistake in thinking Google is about something other than leveraging search to make money. But Google has been about the BUSINESS of search at least since its IPO. Holding some illusion that Google is altruistic is just fantasy.
    • If it's good enough, people will pay for content.

      Get lost! I'm not paying hard currency for a few kilobytes, no matter what the content.

  • is it because there are just too many?
  • I think people may missread Google's intent. It sounds more like they are giving up an advertising based model that would allow people to view the archived newsprint for free, and instead opting to allow the newspapers themselves to set up subscription charges to read back copies of their newspapers, even if those newspapers are now considered to be public domain. Don't be evil may be their motto, but they are a big corporation now, and the bottom line determines their actions.
  • by H3lldr0p (40304) on Friday May 20, 2011 @01:06PM (#36193274) Homepage

    If it works.

    The real problem being is that those in charge of making decisions at the newspapers don't have the desire to go along with this sort of change. And let's not be coy about it. They need to change and we need them to as well. All of us need good, solid reporting of all sorts.

    So far, these sorts of changes have been happening right along without them. This is yet another stop on the grand train to the digital future which most of them are willing to ignore in hopes of something else happening.

    Let's see if this time they'll get their collective heads out of the sand.

  • "including such gems as the moon landing. "

    Wrong link, it's the politically correct one, this is the real one.

    http://store.theonion.com/product/holy-shit-man-walks-on-fucking-moon-1969,158/ [theonion.com]

    • Note that the link in the PP has a report on Teddy "Splash" Kennedy's little misadventure, just below the moon landing.

      • Now, don't be picking on Teddy. He's all they had after the other three kids got wasted, ya know. And that isn't even counting Rosemary Kennedy, because she was lobotomized as punishment for being female.

  • by realsilly (186931) on Friday May 20, 2011 @01:11PM (#36193334)

    I've always found that reading through older articles, that one retains more of the facts as they unfolded versus today's news reporting which seems to be mostly heavily biased towards sensationalism and less facts.

    But then again maybe that's how reporting always took place, and I only remember the good ole days because the actual fact is my memory is selective in how I remember those days.

  • How does google back up their data. Or even do they? Or is it just a massive farm of machines with the data spread across redundantly?
  • If google collected, OCR'd and indexed everything they can get their hands on.
    If the price was set at the original issue price.
    If I owned/had access forever.
    If they had some workable payment system.

    I thought it was really neat when old magazines and newspapers started showing up in some of my searches. It would often be worth buying a copy of a paper when researching things. Or at least having the option of doing so.
  • I'm glad they got what they did. Reading some of the 1860's newspapers is really cool.

  • ...for scanning all the issues of Popular Science. I love reading those old issues, following the development of science through these magazines. If it weren't for Google, I could have never gotten access to them.

    Perhaps if I lived in the US I could find them in some way, but impossible from Europe. Google made it possible for me, and for this I am truly grateful.

  • If they wanted to, they could keep all the archived materials, and eventually offer them back to the source of the articles, for a price, thereby avoiding let's say the new york times from having to go through all the already scanned documents on their own time as google has already done so. This could provide google with extra revenue back from all the invested man hours for this failure, but also allow them to save some companies money where they would want to be part of this new technology for digitizing

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