Google and the World Brain

Synopsis: The story of the most ambitious project ever conceived on the Internet, and the people who tried to stop it. In 1937 HG Wells predicted the creation of the "World Brain", a giant global library that contained all human knowledge which would lead to a new form of higher intelligence. Seventy year later the realization of that dream was underway, as Google scanned millions and millions of books for its Google Books website. But over half those books were still in copyright, and authors across the world launched a campaign to stop them, climaxing in a New York courtroom in 2011. A film about the dreams, dilemmas and dangers of the Internet, set in spectacular locations in China, USA, Europe and Latin America.
Director(s): Ben Lewis
Production: Polar Star Films
  1 win & 11 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
90 min

And it seemed to me

that it had a lot of plausibility.

And so, we decided to...

to give it a try.

Every great library did digitising,

sometimes on a large scale,

our Open Collections Programme

digitised 2.3 million pages.

I mean, that's big.

But nothing like as big

as what Google attempted to do.

The sheer ambition

of digitising everything.

In the ancient world,

at the Library of Alexandria,

they copied rolls and tablets,

and attempted to copy

all that was known.

And, eventually, the library

was destroyed by Julius Caesar

and the loss of that library

in Alexandria

was an international catastrophe.

The universal library's been

talked about for millennia.

There's a kind of a continuity

of development

and, you know, we mustn't forget

the important role

that libraries and scholars

have always made

for millennia of copying.

And then, you see,

with the development of printing,

the multiplicity of texts,

the copying of original texts.

It was possible to think

in the Renaissance

that you might be able to amass

the whole of published knowledge

in a single room

or a single institution.

Then, in the 19th century,

you have various suggestions

in France and Belgium

that you can create

a catalogue of everything.

What will come next is microfilm.

And so, you start finding

huge microfilming projects.

And so, for us, the Google Project

was a sort of a natural extension

of that process of development.

Project Gutenberg, Michael Hart,

was the first digital library.

He started on the fourth of July,

in early 1970s,

by going and typing

the Declaration of Independence

so that everybody

could have access to it.

Thousands of volunteers worked

from all over the world

to go and build this.

He even had the idea

that it ought to be possible

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Google and the World Brain" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 19 Jan. 2021. <>.

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