Monday, March 21, 2005

Chirac Draws A Digital Maginot Line


Jacques Chirac is feeling a bit beleaguered. The French might not pass the E.U. Constitution, French wine may not be all that it's cracked up to be, Agence France-Presse feels threatened by Google, and Google's announcement that it is to offer access to some 15 million books and documents currently housed in five of the most prestigious libraries in the English-speaking world has France's chief librarian in a tizzy:
"It is confirmation of the risk of a crushing American domination
in the definition of how future generations conceive the world."

It would have been "deleterious and detestable" for the image of France if the only texts popularly consulted around the world for an interpretation of the revolution were English-language ones, he said.

So Chirac is launching a digital Maginot line, quickly financing the Gallica project which has put some 80,000 French works and 70,000 images on-line, hoping to slow the digital advance of the Anglo-Saxon culture. But the budget for this effort is less than one thousandth of the 200 million dollars that the US is prepared to spend.

Given the success of the original Maginot line, one would think that Chirac would best adopt the Vichy strategy and cede the war to the Anglosphere; that being said, no one is arguing, including me, that French language shouldn't be fully represented on the internet. The only barrier to entry is the conviction with which one stands behind their country's culture.