According to InfoWorld the French/German marriage initially conceived to fight Google’s book digitization dominance has broken up.

I thought this was a cute news item when it first came to prominence almost two years ago. The curator of the French National Library apparently convinced Chirac that it was imperative that a “European” answer to the Google Book digitization project be created or that Europe would suffer a loss in the global culture battle.

Now, nationalistic rhetoric aside, it IS an interesting idea they had. They wanted to balance the preponderance of American content online by making sure their own content was also online. But their chosen solution to this, to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayers dollars trying to subsidize what amounts to a new competitor in private industry, always seemed like a ragingly stupid idea.

If the goal is to get your content online, then do that. The money spent on trying to reinvent the wheel could better be spent on digitizing more books and putting them into Google’s database. But what is the point of trying to make a European “Google”? Or are the governments of these countries so arrogant to believe that they can challenge Google at what that company does best?

And now the beautiful dream of European cooperation in technology to create a new online superpower to challenge the supposed American supremacy in one particular patch of cyberspace (i.e. search) has come apart at the seams, the victim, it would appear, of differences of opinion.

Makes you wonder how they ever got this far as a “Union”.

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