Is Google Good for Scholarship?

Announcing the next meeting of the Digital Scholars reading and discussion group
Friday, April 16, 2010, from 12:30 – 2:00 pm
in the Williams building Skybox (415)
on the topic of

Is Google Good for Scholarship? As if you needed the URL for the search engine whose name can now function as various parts of speech: noun, verb, adjective, etc. You probably use the engine everyday including in your scholarly and professional work. Google Scholar is even a brand name now from a company whose ambition is “to organize the world’s information.” But what is Google scholarship? What does search do to research? What are the consequences for the humanities in Google’s actual search products, and Google Books in particular? The discussion of Google Books has largely centered around libraries and copyright. Our discussion will consider the effects of Google on humanities scholarship.

We begin with one of the most conspicuous figures in digital humanities, Dan Cohen. Cohen is the director of George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media and one of the collaborators/inventors of the open-source citation software Zotero.

Geoffrey Nunberg, a professor of linguistics and information studies at UC Berkeley, offers a balder take on the matter:

For its own part, Google is certainly interested in exploring these questions (and getting out ahead of critique), having recently announced a faculty grants program for research on/using Google Books.


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