Why Countries Must Compete with Google

November 20, 2008

A happy quack to one of my two or three readers in Australia. The story “Massive EU Online Library Looks to Compete with Google” sparked a number of ideas in my mind. You can find the full text of the Syndney Morning Herald’s story here. The story described that the European Union will launch what will be called Europeana. The made up word suggests big collection of European content. For me, the most interesting comment was:

By 2010, the date when Europeana is due to be fully operational, the aim is to have 10 million works available, an impressive number yet a mere drop in the ocean compared to the 2.5 billion books in Europe’s more common libraries. The process of digitalisation is a massive undertaking. Around one percent of the books in the EU’s national libraries are now available in digital form, with that figure expected to grow to four percent in 2012. And even when they are digitalised, they still have to be put online.

My research suggested in 2004 that Google was building a 21st century version of the pre-break up American Telephone & Telegraph system. The Google vision was global and the 19th century telco was giving way to an applications platform that could deliver digital services from Google data centers to any type of network aware device. In speaking with my publisher about the new distributor for my 2007 Google Version 2.0 study, we touched upon the idea that Google is essentially a country. It is not a company.

I won’t repeat the country argument that I explicate in my Google studies. The point is that the European Union has reached the same conclusion. No one is able to fund a start up that will index the European Union members’ information. Google is aiming for global information. The EU is happy with a couple of dozen countries’ information. More importantly, the EU approach will be to act on behalf of almost 24 nations.

That’s a fairly good example of my assertion: A single company cannot compete with Google. I hope you will disagree. I don’t want to say the pledge of allegiance to a kindergarten colors flag and recite such words as “googley nation” or “TCP/IP on everything”. Use the comments section to prove my assertion that Google can now only be challenged by countries.

Stephen Arnold, November 20, 2008


One Response to “Why Countries Must Compete with Google”

  1. Angel Maldonado on November 20th, 2008 1:40 pm

    Countries don’t have to create that type of value on information, they should focus on building the right conditions so others can create it.

    I don’t think any government can compete with any private initiative, they always be slower. Yet, they can make it easier for companies in their eco-system to be competitive. In this particular case, they could focus only in turning those pages in re-useable content and allow for other to build value around it. The Principles of Open Data from Tim O’Reilly, Carl Malamud and others + the report Government Data and the Invisible Hand. (Robinson, David, Yu, Harlan, Zeller, William P. and Felten, Edward W. Yale Journal of Law & Technology, Vol. 11, 2008. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1138083) made my thinking on this.

    Great blog Steve, best regards from Spain!!

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