Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


Libraries Are the Last Defense Against A Google-Apple-Amazon-Facebook Information Oligopoly

John R. Austin

John R. Austin

Open and free access to information, and thus knowledge and education, is being stripped from our core rights as humans and citizens of the world. We are being force-fed what to read, how to read and in what format to read available content. And in the ever-increasing digital age this results in taking advantage of our less fortunate citizens, resulting in even greater disparity among the economic classes.

Do you realize that the supersonic explosion of data creation due to new technologies has resulted in 90% of all existing data being less than two years old!

Tonight we will examine how we must stop the control of information by a few monied private concerns (an oligopoly) by strengthening a venerable, existing, democratic institution dedicated to the free access of information by all.

Key excerpts from tonight’s research resource:

“Over 90 percent of Americans feel that libraries are a vital part of their communities. Compare this to 53 percent for the police, 27 percent for public schools, and just 7 percent for Congress, and you’re looking at perhaps the greatest success of the public sector.”

“The risk of a small number of technically savvy, for-profit companies determining the bulk of what we read and how we read it is enormous. The great beauty of the rich, diverse library system that has developed over the past century and a half has been the role of librarians in selecting and making available a range of material for people to consult and enjoy. No one pressing an ideology can co-opt this system; no single commercial entity can do an end run around the library system in the interest of profit.”

“What gets short shrift in BiblioTech, then, is the importance of retaining some kind of monastery of dusty knowledge, a church of books. Print has been around since human ancestors drew tracks in the dust and is still the only form of durable information that requires no mediation—that is, no device to interpret it. Reading a book is the most direct relationship a person can have with information apart from listening to someone speak and there must be some kind of common cultural institution filled with pews of comfy chairs and the musk of paper. Like the bicycle, the book is the best thing for what it does and will likely be around as long as humans are around because, as James Bennet wrote in the Atlantic, “technologies have a way of supplementing, rather than simply replacing, one another.””

““It’s not too much of a stretch to say that the fate of well-informed, open, free republics could hinge on the future of libraries,” Palfrey writes in his conclusion. In fact, the fate of our republic hinges on the vitality of all public life, and libraries should not be required—even on double or triple budget—to take on the whole burden.”

“We certainly need a free and open institution, prepped for the 21st century, where people can engage themselves in democracy. But then, of course, we also need a democracy.”

Read the rest of tonights incisive research article:

Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google

Written by Amien Essif and published in AlterNet


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