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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Help for Info Age Have-Nots: "Computing and calling devices are only part of the efforts. Yahoo and Google (GOOG ) are in an arms race to expand the availability of services and information available online. On Oct. 3, Yahoo announced that it would follow Google's lead in indexing books with its own program, the Open Content Alliance.

Yahoo will fund a nonprofit group called the Internet Archive to scan the University of California's entire collection of American literature -- some 18,000 texts. Starting in October, the first of those texts will be available for search and download as PDF files on the Open Content Alliance Web site. In addition to funding the American literature component of the product, Yahoo will also power the search for all text and video that the Internet Archive aggregates for the library on Open Content Alliance site.

LET A MILLION BOOKS BLOOM. The project will do more than just give everyday Internet users full access to some of the world's classic works, says Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle. In addition to being available online, the digital books will be included on all of the archive's 'Bookmobiles' -- Internet-enabled trucks that print and bind books on demand for the poor and underprivileged.

Kahle says those trucks, which have been deployed as far away as Egypt and Uganda, are just the beginning. Using this print-on-demand technology, 'we want every school, and every neighborhood library to be a million-book library,' says Kahle.

Unlike Google's comparable Print for Libraries program, this scanned content won't sit on Yahoo's servers, and all search engines will be able to index the Open Content Alliance books. That stifles any chance of giving Yahoo a competitive edge in search. Yahoo hopes the Open Content Alliance will demonstrate its "

Yahoo hopes the Open Content Alliance will demonstrate its commitment to providing users with helpful services.

ONLINE ONE-UPMANSHIP. The project gives Yahoo an opportunity to show up archrival Google, argues Chris Charron, vice-president at Forrester Research. Google's Print program ruffled feathers of authors and publishers alike by saying it would scan copyrighted texts (see BW Online, 9/22/05, "For Google, Another Stormy Chapter"). Yahoo will stay out of the fray by scanning only out-of-copyright texts in the public domain.

Both Google and Yahoo, says Charron, "need to create a brand that is in sync with [their audience's] broader social motivations...and both are trying to one-up each other across a variety of different segments."

That's just one example of the way Yahoo's and Google's innovation war is benefiting the Net. Closer to home, Google is bidding to equip San Francisco with free, high-speed Internet access via Wi-Fi. It submitted a formal proposal in late September, along with several other companies, for a project estimated to cost tens of millions of dollars.

In April, 2005, Google teamed up with wireless startup Feeva to sponsor a Wi-Fi hot zone in San Francisco. The search giant likely has big plans: Analysts expect it might bankroll several Wi-Fi access points around the country, so it can better serve local advertising. If Google knows where a user is sitting while searching for, say, a restaurant, it can better target its advertising -- and charge restaurants within a certain radius a premium for such a qualified lead.

ALWAYS CONNECTED. Efforts like these take aim at a different type of Digital Divide than MIT is focusing on with its $100 laptop

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As Popeye once said,"I ams what I am." But then again maybe I'm not