Thursday, October 05, 2006

Google's Literacy Project: Don't be fooled

I've been seeing this breathless announcement everywhere this morning: In partnership with UNESCO and LitCam (Frankfurt Book Fair Literacy Campaign), Google has just launched a search site called The Literacy Project, "a resource for teachers, literacy organisations and anyone interested in reading and education." Isn't that exciting?

No, not particularly. UNESCO and LitCam have merely lent their names to legitimize a site that's nothing more than a directory of Google services.

Check out the homepage for The Literacy Project. Click on any of the sections and you'll be steered to another Google service. Want to find some blogs devoted to adult literacy? You'll be shown a selection of Blogger blogs--and no others. (Google owns Blogger.) You'll even be invited to start your own Blogger blog. Want to find a discussion group on teaching children to read? Your search results will show only Google Groups--not Yahoo. And you'll be invited to create a Google Group of your own. Looking for some videos? You'll be shown plenty of Google Videos--but nothing from YouTube. Have you spotted the trend yet?

The Literacy Project has a noble-sounding name, but it's not about promoting literacy, it's about promoting Google. I wonder how much UNESCO and LitCam were paid for the use of their names.

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Anonymous said...

do you even know how a business works?
of course google will promote itself, that is the whole point. And while they do that, they're helping us students by creating these helpful projects.

Anonymous said...

in case you didn't notice, the site says that UNESCO gave all the data for the maps that looks like it was entirely something created for the site.

Yishay said...

It would be Ok for google to promote itself, if it had actualy done something for the cause. This is a sham. All they did is a quick wrapper around existing services. Nothing to do with literacy. Nothing to do with education. I mean, every teacher with internet access in the world knows how to search for 'adult education' on google. so what's the great thing about the canned searches?

And the map, oh that's a joke. Only one literacy organization in the whole middle east?

Brenda Coulter said...

Anonymous, there's certainly nothing wrong with Google's wanting to promote its services--many of which I use daily and very much appreciate. But as Yishay suggests, there was no special effort put into this project, and it's disingenuous of Google to tout the page as a bonanza for those wishing to research literacy topics.

Why limit your search results? Stick with basic Google searches and you'll find much more useful information.