Haiti, Google and the “democratisation” process

John Carter Brown Haitian books

Photo above: Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library

Fernando Guevara writes:

Insiders high up in Google have provided insight into Google’s plans to dominate about 10 per cent of the world’s economy by a specific date (I do not have access to the date). The sources indicated that this domination would be achieved by controlling access to what information the world population will receive and by controlling energy resources in as many countries as possible. The sources did not indicate who all Google’s partners in this venture were. It is, therefore, anybody’s guess who their partners in the communications and power industries are. 

Further, one of the Google sources confirmed that oligarch interests, including Google, with the assistance of at least one university in the US, had been involved in looting Haitian cultural heritage by buying up scores of books from people who clearly sold them in desperation and without the consent of the Haitian people. The books were obtained from Haiti’s national library in the wake of the earthquake in 2010. It is possible that some books originated from libraries other than Bibliothèque nationale d’Haïti. Wikipedia states (quote below retrieved on 16 November 2021):

The most important recent development affecting Haiti was the devastating earthquake of January 2010. While the National Library did not suffer major structural damage, an unknown number of items from the collection were lost or damaged.

The Google sources claimed that Google scanned the Haitian library books – as well as all other books they could obtain access to – in an effort to “democratise” information. Google asserted that providing the Haitian and other books to everybody aided democracy because it made the books accessible to anyone in the world regardless of their own location. It appears that Google took the position that scanning all books this way was in the public interest and that it therefore overrode rights connected with copyright as well as any other rights involved. Google, did not, however, wish to be seen as the outward face in this selfless humanitarian pursuit of democracy. While I do not have information on the final landing place of the Haitian books, it is clear that they were brought to the United States.

Some Haitian books can be found at the John Carter Brown Library – Haiti Collection, of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. The JC Brown Library shows 1,102 results for the Haiti Collection. The JC Brown Library web site states: 

The John Carter Brown Library holds one of the world’s great collections relating to Haiti. Our rare books, maps and newspapers tell the story of the founding of the French colony of Saint Domingue (once the most lucrative colony in the Americas), its demise through the Haitian Revolution (the world’s only successful slave revolution) and the founding of Haiti in its place. By providing access to this collection, the JCB hopes to stimulate interest in Haiti’s remarkable history.

The website provides a link to the Remember Haiti websit. The web site states that “[t]his site was created in a deeply collaborative spirit, drawing upon advice from historians, librarians, web designers, digital information specialists and donors. Citizens of Haiti, France, the United Kingdom and the United States all contributed meaningful support.” The JC Brown library also says:

The Library considers its extraordinary collection of books, maps, and prints an inalienable resource that has been protected and curated for nearly two centuries, but it also understands the value these sources have for potential audiences throughout the world. The digital revolution has made sharing the collection easier than ever before, allowing us to adopt an open access policy that will help our materials reach anyone who is interested in using them… We ask that anyone who uses the Library’s material include the following attribution: “Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library”. 

I hope the Haitian people know about the JC Brown collection, so that they can access their history too.

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