While projects like self-driving cars and augmented reality glasses remain fixated on the future, Google’s latest experiment is more concerned with preserving our offline past.
On its blog this morning, the company introduced an alliance with scholars and linguists for a website called Endangered Languages Project where users can search, share, and store information about the 3,000 languages “on verge of extinction,” i.e roughly half the languages in the world. Of course as TechCrunch points out, Google is partly to blame for making English the default language of the Internet. Consider this an atonement?
Contributors can create “high-quality recordings of their elders” and connect with members of a diaspora through social media; collaborators have already uploaded everything from modern-day audio-samples to 18th century manuscripts.
Although this is the kind of private data you actually want Google to share with the world, long-term the company will be stepping back on the project it funded, turning the reins over to experts like the First Peoples’ Cultural Council (FPCC) and The Institute for Language Information and Technology(The LINGUIST List) at Eastern Michigan University.