Google plans to digitise the Iraq National Museum's collections

Putting aside any cynicism about publicity stunts, it is interesting to see Google announce that they are ‘digitising’ the collections of the National Museum of Iraq.

The story on Reuters claims that 14,000 photos of the artefacts will be published online in early 2010.

“I can think of no better use of our time and our resources to make the images and ideas from your civilization, from the very beginning of time, available to a billion people worldwide,” Google CEO Eric Schmidt said at a news conference at the Baghdad museum.

“Most American companies are not yet operating in Iraq, and we would like to show that it’s possible to do business in Iraq, that Iraq is an important market that will grow quickly, that it’s sufficiently stable,” he added.

Ah, so the latter quote shows some of the politics involved, but recording, cataloguing and making freely available such an important collection is surely a good thing.

The questions that arise from this news are numerous, and, just to add to the speculation, ReadWriteWeb quote Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt as saying that there will be “a few surprises“.

Will Google be releasing the raw data? Will it be structured? Are Google going to release a collections management system? Will they work closely with other museums?

Definitely one to watch.

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3 Responses to Google plans to digitise the Iraq National Museum's collections

  1. Frankie Roberto 25 November, 2009 at 4:53 pm #

    Gosh, yes, how interesting!

    Wonder if Google will show us how museum digitisation is really done. Or whether it’ll end up a relative simple Google Scholar/Books style affair.

  2. Martin Greaney 11 December, 2009 at 2:55 pm #

    Google usually come up with stuff that’s easy to navigate and incredibly useful, though it’ll be interesting to see how accessible it becomes. Their stuff is usually free, but I hope the Baghdad scans etc will be open too.

  3. Peter Edwell 22 January, 2010 at 5:08 am #

    Looking forward to this but will virtual Iraq be the only Iraq we know?