CAN GOOGLE DIGITIZE EVERYTHING?

All the books in the world, that is? They think so, and they have a pretty good track record (though not a perfect one). I was quite excited recently when I started getting lots of hits entering Russian search terms into Google Book Search. The latest stumbling block is a lawsuit filed by a group of publishers, but everyone seems to think it will be settled out of court. You can read all about it in Jeffrey Toobin’s article “Google’s Moon Shot” in the latest New Yorker. I won’t try to summarize it; I just want to mention one very odd feature of the printed version. Where the online text says “Google has become known for providing access to all of the world’s knowledge…,” the magazine itself says “Google has become known for 8; providing access to all of the world’s knowledge.” I presume the “8;” is a remnant of some type of coding, but it’s distressing that it managed to make it into print. Shape up, New Yorker!

Comments

  1. Yes, don’t they know that it’s the online version that’s supposed to be corrupted?! I believe the New Yorker style guide even specifies exactly which string of gibberish should be used to replace the second “o” in “cooperation” (with the diaeresis mark over it).

  2. I presume the “8;” is a remnant of some type of coding, but it’s distressing that it managed to make it into print. Shape up, New Yorker!
    Wow, it’s gone already. When Language Hat says, “Shape up!”, the New Yorker says, “How high?”

  3. No, no, it was never in the online version, it’s in the print version. If they’ve managed to expunge it from your printed copy, then I’ll be impressed.

  4. I think they are trying to say that Google is known for eight. Certainly if Google can digitize all human knowledge, we can ascribe Pythagorean power over integers to them as well.

  5. Funny, I just read that article last night. I think it says something about my current state of mind that I just assumed I wasn’t smart enough to understand that sentence; it didn’t occur to me that it might be a mistake. I’m relieved, I think – I spent a good 15 seconds thinking about the ’8′ thing before moving on.

  6. It was a smiley.

  7. You encounter this kind of problem in English-language publications in China. Just last night I was flipping through a parallel English-Chinese version of ‘Stray Birds’ 飞鸟集 (Tagore) which used the word ‘lifeís’, obviously ‘life’s’ from the context.
    I’m not sure of the cause in this case. In the past I’ve seen this happen as a result of converting documents from Windows to Mac. Could also be a result of typing English using Chinese input mode. (The apostrophe is ‘ in English and ’ in Chinese.)

  8. I’m not sure of the cause in this case. In the past I’ve seen this happen as a result of converting documents from Windows to Mac.
    That’s it in this case too; í in MacRoman (the Macintosh character encoding as used for most languages of Western Europe) is at the code point of ’ (right directed quotation mark) in Windows 1252 (the Windows character encoding as used for most languages of Western Europe). The document must have been composed on a Windows machine in an application that didn’t save it as Unicode, and pre-press was then done on a Mac.

  9. (Of course, that doesn’t answer the question as to why all the other apostrophes in the book are not “í”s.)

  10. Well, for starters, perhaps the proofreader just missed it. This is especially likely if the proofreader was Chinese — easy to miss things in a language that is not your own native language.
    Could also be an organisational mixup. For instance, they might have made some last minute changes (on their Windows machine) and didn’t even show it to the proofreader for final approval. Happens all the time!

  11. Why would the proofreader be a Chinese speaker? This is The New Yorker, a publication famed for its proofreading and factchecking.

  12. No, I was talking about the Chinese-English parallel versions of ‘Stray Birds’! Definitely not in the same class as The New Yorker.

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