Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Adieu Jean-Noël . . .

According to French media, last week Jean-Noël Jeanneney stepped down as head of the BNF (Bibliothèque nationale de France).

From the pages of l’Humanite, we learn that, interestingly enough, the news coincided with the official launch of, the last name for “la contribution Française a la Bibliothèque Numérique Européen”.

In addition to be a respected author and archetype of the “intellectuel français”, Jean-Noël gained a great notoriety at international level after his notorious article on le Monde, When Google Challenges Europe ["Quand Google defie l'Europe"]

Arguably, his article started off the somehow disingenuous controversy to provide a European alternative to Google Book Search, and finally, to Google search…And it did have the immediate outcome to slow the program adoption by French publishers, with the result of having French content somehow under-represented in Google Book Search.

Not only the article gave him more notoriety that he could have ever expected (as a matter of fact I always suggest to sue Google if you can: most likely you won’t win the lawsuit, but you WILL become worldwide known!), but it also gave him the basics to publish a new book, which (guess what?), his publisher added to Google Book Search : Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge: A View from Europe

It’s not my intention to discuss over the highly politically charged agenda of Jean- Noël (whose Google internal nickname was “Johnny Christmas” as a result of the “not always impeccable” Google language translator – how comical is that?)

I’m more interested in seeing whether this is the start of a new era or rather the confirmation of a hard-to-sustain position for France on the topic.

Either way, all the best to Jean-Noël, for all his new endeavors… and all the best to Europeana!
We can’t wait to see when the project will develop into an integrated, multi-language, multicultural digital library. We need more of those. But so far, as the website says, it’s just a “prototype”.


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