Tuesday, April 05, 2005

France declars war on US

WaPo reported France declared war on the United States three weeks ago. You didn't notice? Clearly, you're not French.

This war is being fought against one of America's greatest exports. Not rock 'n roll. Not McDonald's or the Disney Co. This time it's Google that the French have in their crosshairs.

Jean-Noel Jeanneney, president of France's Bibliotheque National, or National Library, declared last month that Google's project to create a searchable online database of the world's books constitutes the sunrise of an American hegemony over information and literature.

Jeanneney's call to arms rattled French President Jacques Chirac's saber. Along with French Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, announced on March 17 that France would study ways for the European community to embark on a similar project so as to counter Google's thrust into the heartland of Euro-culture.

"A vast movement of digitalisation of knowledge is underway across the world. With the wealth of their exceptional cultural heritage, France and Europe must play a decisive part," Chirac said.

Jeanneney, in an article carried in Le Monde, professed that there's not really any hostility intended toward Google. Instead, it's just an attempt to produce an equally viable point of view -- one that reflects European sensibilities rather than Google's "American mirror."

But this is a war nonetheless. Le Monde characterized it as such in the same paragraph in which it noted Chirac's tendency to vilify the "Anglo-Saxon culture" and its (and "its" here should really be read as "the United States'") habit of eclipsing others.

If we all get together and say BOO loudly I suspect the French will surrender.

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