My latest contribution to the Google Debate, hosted by Electronic Publishing Services in London, has just gone up. Comments on “The elephant in the room: values and the public good” are most welcome. Here’s how it starts:
One of the amazing things about U.S. politics of late has been that people vote for leaders who make their lives more difficult and dangerous. George Lakoff, a University of California linguist who has been trying to get the Democrats to pay attention, writes, â€œPeople do not necessarily vote in their self-interest. They vote their identity. They vote their values. They vote for who they identify with.â€
We need to remember this when we look at the Google Library debate.
It is in the ordinary personâ€™s interest to have systems that reward creators and innovators, scholars and analysts. Their work makes life better and the future brighter. But unless we publishers and authors do a better job at the one thing we should do supremely wellâ€”communicateâ€”the people at Google, the techies, will win in the realm of public opinion. Because, so far, they are using the English language more effectively than we are to touch peopleâ€™s sense of identity and values.