The EU doesn’t get the internet, it seems

The US Google Books and Archive.org are free.  The EU equivalent charges readers money.  That tells us everything we need to know about the EU.

How many of us were aware that there *was* an EU official alternative?  few, I imagine.  But today I learned about it: Books2EBooks.  It’s a glossy site, paid for by levies on taxpayers who didn’t get a vote on it (like all EU projects).  The site is full of guff about how wonderful, wonderful the internet is.  Get books from EU libraries, it boasts!  Only in the small print is buried the fact that, yes, you have to BUY them from the site.  How really, really FUNNY!

Most of the libraries are German, and their holdings were paid for by the taxpayer.  This is more evidence that the Germans really don’t get the internet.  Or — to be fair — that officialdom in Germany doesn’t get it. 

We all know that the internet is about free access to information.  US libraries are cooperating to make their holdings accessible freely online.  Individuals like myself donate our time to creating archives of material. 

But here, ten years after the web started, these greedy bureaucrats stir their hulking hog-like bodies, swollen with tax dollars exacted from the helpless for necessary services and diverted to themselves.  They look at Archive.org, which is free, and see only a chance to make a bit of money for themselves by selling copies of out-of-copyright books in their holdings.  Do they hate people?  Or are they merely greedy?

Isn’t the EU contemptible?  Let’s thank our lucky stars we don’t live in Germany.

3 thoughts on “The EU doesn’t get the internet, it seems

  1. There seems to be a misunderstanding about what the EU is about. The EU is not there to help provide services for free. The is EU is out there to provide closer integration between the countries. Integration can mean things like paying for thousands of kilometers of road that have been built with EU money in Greece, hundreds of thousands of kilometers of wire that have allowed every village to have telephone lines. Thus the EU has also paid for the integration of libraries, which is what has happened in this case. Books2EBooks does not host stuff, it links to libraries, some of which do have stuff for free eg Dspace.

    Like I said earlier the continental model is that the state is separate from the people. I will explain later, I have work now

  2. You’re certainly welcome to your views about what the EU is for. But an evil is an evil. Arguing that it’s OK because it’s an international, coordinated evil is curious. Should I charge people to read this blog? 🙂 Absurd, really.

  3. The EU has done a great good to Greece. It has forced politicians to be accountable, it has forced environmental policy rather than uncontrolled dumping, has helped increase the level of sophistication and organisation of both the public and the private sector (as in giving standards for food safety, thus helping the food industry). Most importantly with its farm subsidies it has helped lift hundreds of thousands of farmers from extreme poverty to the middle class (alas, in the UK agricultural land is mostly owned by the members of the House of Lords so most people do not receive every year a paycheck) Sure it has its failings but is has been a force for good than for evil.

    Now as for that we have to pay for goverment products we must not forget that for most of history the state has been an independant entity from its people: it would collect taxes and send them to the capital to be used by the sultan/emperor/king. Why should the Ottoman sultan’s/ Russian czar’s/Austrian Emperor’s forces offer something to the people since after all they are nothing more that sheep for milking (=giaour, generic offence used against Greeks and Christians in general in the Ottoman Empire)?

    Since independance or social revolutions (=French revolution) the new states/regimes have most definitely been more friendly than the old empires, but still after centuries of seeing and being seen by the state as something other it is expected that there is a different mentality than in countries where the state was built by the people and for the people. The state is a private corporation owned by the people. Like all corporations it must be paid for its services. If it can be paid by the users rather than the taxpayers, then taxpayers will complain less. Of course there are things that the state should provide for free like education at all levels including universities, health care, police, defense, social benefits etc. but all of these are popular services available to the general public. If someone wants specialised services like geodata, museums, national collections, archeological sites that are only sought by specialists and are picked up by the state because noone else wants or is safe to perform (how certain can one be that a private owner of a museum won’t eventually sell the pieces at times of need? See Bodmer papyri) then he sould pay for it. That is the mentality, I do not agree but I understand.

    If anything the EU has pushed for greater access to closed data (eg Aaarhus convention, INSPIRE initative, CORINE Landcover, all of these refer to geodata) but centuries of mentality are hard to change. Just like the EU has partially paid for the telephone wire in our house but we still pay broadband costs to our provider the EU has partially subsidised the digitisation of national manuscripts but it is up to the owner of it to allow its diffusion or not. Sure it is a national collection but we should not forget that it was originally a kings collection and the king would only allow his friends to see it. If anything, from experience the EU IS pushing for greater diffusion and openess, otherwise most Greek universities would not even have a website …

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