00:33 AM

Google Literacy Project: Little more than a home page

The wire services gave Google due credit for launching The Literacy Project - an effort with LitCam and UNESCO to promote literacy around the world - at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The press release version is represented in this BBC article:

The Literacy Project enables teachers, organisations, and those interested in literacy to use the internet to search for and share literacy information. .... Users can search for information in digitised books and academic articles, and share information through blogs, videos and groups.

Cool. But take a look at the so-called portal and you realize that the so-called development is little more than a landing page and some predefined searches. The portal features links to Google Books, Video, Blogger, etc. You might as well bookmark it for whatever you want to search on Google, because there's absolutely nothing specific to literacy about it.

The portal doesn't feature a subset of books available on Google, such that every search is going to come up with on-target hits of interest to literacy advocates. Indeed, searching from the Literacy Project simply queries the entire Books index. Search Books for "africa literacy" and you get a hodge-podge of titles with those words; the top hit is from an encyclopedia of library science referencing South Africa.

This is a job for the AOLs of the world, which are going to put an army of actual people on the task to preselect the best, most relevant materials. Google's effort is development via press release, essentially a half-day school project for a web design student.