In his classic book “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, Douglas Adams imagined a reference source that would serve as “the standard repository for all knowledge and wisdom.” Could Google be fulfilling that vision?
I ask not because of the ubiquitous role that their search engine plays in everyday life, but because of their efforts to put books, magazines, and newspapers online and make them freely accessible.
Just this week, they’ve gone live with the entire archives of Popular Science… every page from 137 years of the magazine. It’s fascinating to see how the publication chronicled the work of the Wright brothers, the beginning of the personal computer era, or even less mainstream advances such as the 1933 robot cow.
In November 2008, I wrote about Google’s efforts to put the photographic archives of Life Magazine online, including thousands of images that had never been published before. They also have the entire run of Baseball Digest. You can either browse through it issue by issue, or run a search query to find articles that interest you. With the touch of a button, I found a 1977 article about Cesar Geronimo, one of my favorite players when I was a kid.