Monday, April 29, 2013

SFIFF: Google and the World Brain

I was happy to get to a screening on Saturday at the SF International Film Festival, which opened last Thursday. The documentary Google and World Brain concerns Google Books, Google's project to build an on-line universal library. When the corporation starts scanning copyrighted texts without authors' permissions, it gets into legal & political trouble.The film consists of pristinely photographed interviews with librarians, technologists, & authors, plus intertitles, soaring shots of libraries, archival footage, & bad animations. I wish it included more of a TV appearance by the 17-year-old Ray Kurzweil on I've Got a Secret. The filmmakers assume that copyright is a good thing & raise issues about the purpose of libraries, the monopolization of access to information, & on-line privacy. Interviewees speak English, Spanish, French, German, Mandarin, & Japanese, envincing Google's global reach. Google did not permit interviews with its employees talking about Google Books specifically, & it comes across as predatory, secretive, & arrogant.

San Francisco International Film Festival photo IMG_20130427_181130_zpse2ddbcca.jpgThe screening was at rush, & the audience seemed to be as skeptical of big Internet companies as the film. I would have liked to know how many Google employees attended. Festival programmer Sean Uyehara introduced the show & observed that since we can look up anything online right away, we don't wonder as much.

§ Google and the World Brain
Ben Lewis, dir; 2013, 89 mins, England, Spain

The 56th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival
Sat, 4/27 6:45 PM New People
Sun, 5/5 6:30 PM Sundance Kabuki Cinemas

1 comment:

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