Pay no attention to the hand inside the book – digitization, labour, and the troubling implications of Google hands

The Wizard of Oz revealed. Found at:

In order to balance out the length of last week’s post, I’m going to keep this one fairly brief. I have very much enjoyed the serendipitous nature of how my paper topic has unfolded – informed and pushed along by my research into last week’s blog post as well as discussions around it. I have decided to use the appearance of Google book scanners’ hands in digitized copies of Google books as a jumping off point to consider the invisible labour of digitization work (the title of this post is my working title so far). I will also be considering the response to, in particular Google’s mistakes, in which the human effort of digitization is accidentally made visible; I will be looking into the sort of forensic work done by those who hunt down these mistakes, and then compile and display them (either on blogs, as artwork, or in printed publications). I am interested in what this means with regards to the relationship between the human and the digital, and how accidents in digitized books can reveal the manipulations of their creation.

To be supporting my exploration, I will look into firsthand examples of images including book scanners’ hands, blogs, books, and art projects that recapture and disseminate them, as well as responses to the issue in the popular media (you can see most of these sources in my reference list for last week’s post). I will be using theoretical readings from this course to comment on the implications of these digitizing mistakes (such as Trettien’s exploration of print on demand books and Mak’s investigation of Early English Books Online (EEBO)).

I have also taken out some fascinating books from the Inforum including Digital Labour and Karl Marx by Christian Fuchs, Digitize this Book!: The Politics of New Media, or Why We Need Open Access Now by Gary Hall – and relating to Google specifically, From Gutenberg to Google: Electronic Representations of Literary Texts by Peter L. Shillingsburg, Planet Google: One Company’s Audacious Plan to Organize Everything We Know by Randall Stross, and The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry) by Siva Vaidhyanathan.

If you guys have any thoughts/comments/sources you would like to direct my way, I would be glad to hear them!

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