Google and the World Brain

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Instructions: Answer the following questions about the film, “Google and the World Brain.”

Post-Viewing Discussion:
Characters and Story
1) The film introduces you to a wide cast of characters, with varied opinions about the benefits and dangers of the Google Books project.
• Were there any statements that stuck out in your mind?
• With whom did you agree and disagree?
• Did any comments surprise you?
2) What are Google’s goals in scanning books?
• Why do they want to digitize the world’s libraries? What’s in it for them?
• Who tended to be in favor of the Google Books project, and who was against it? Why?
3) What is your opinion of Google after watching the film?
• What role do you think Google plays in your life?
• Can you identify any other major web-based corporations that you interact with on a daily basis?
Context
1) What is the “world brain”? In what ways does it already exist? What remains in the realm of science fiction?
• If the “world brain” were to come to its full power in your lifetime, how do you think it would change our daily lives? Use your imagination.
2) Several of the interviewees commented that Google tends to act first, and only later analyze the consequences of a project.
• Why do you think Google’s executives choose to work that way?
• What are the potential dangers?
Consider the statement: “Google is a corporation that thinks it’s an NGO.”
• What is a corporation, and what is an NGO?
What additional factors does a corporation need to account for that might complicate its goals of serving the public good?
Consider the statement:“A book is not just an extra-long tweet.” Why not?
Make a list of the forms of writing that are created specifically for a digital and online readership. What are their defining characteristics?
3) Using your best science fiction skills, imagine the world if Google achieved its wildest ambitions and created an artificially intelligent creature whose “brain” contained all the knowledge in all of the world’s libraries. Writing from the perspective of a student your age, describe a day in that world.
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