Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sarko-Microsoft Lovefest

Hmmm. President Sarkozy has decorated Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer with the Légion d'honneur, saluting a firm that "understands the humanist values of France and Europe." And Ballmer returned the favor, recognizing France as a "land of innovation ... attractive [to investors, presumably] ... with many resources to be one of the leaders in international competition."

Cool. So why can't Google digitize the books in the BNF? Surely a Google monopoly is no more a threat to "the humanist values of France and Europe" than a Microsoft monopoly.

1 comment:

Mark said...

A propos de la BNF, it's well worth reading the reflections of W.G. Sebald in the latter pages of his novel "Austerlitz". He makes two related observations: the new BN library complex is quite literally constructed on the former site of warehouses where valuables, belongings and artworks appropriated from Jews had been stocked, sorted and ranked by value by considerable numbers of French collaborators. These assistants of the Nazis thus had to have been aware that the object's former owners were never coming back. That this site stands now buried beneath the president's pharaonic library, into which one descends as if into ancient tomb, seems to be no accident Sebald suggests at least symbolically speaking. Secondly, in contrast to the old BN, which A Resnais saw as embodying "Toute la mémoire du monde", the new library is inimical to human beings. Its architecture, immensity and bureaucracy rather designed to exclude readers whom are redefined as " potential enemies." Indeed, the complex is seen by Sebald as being the official manifestation of an urge to break any connection to the past. Thus for him it is the opposite a place of memory to use P Nora's formula. Food for thought....