, by SAMEEN AHMED KHAN
There is an enormous amount of information available in billions of web-pages. The big challenge lies in getting the most relevant pieces of information in the least amount of time. This is done by using the numerous online search engines. Google (http://www.google.com/) is one of the most favourite search engines. Within the year 2004, the number of web-pages indexed by Google doubled from four to eight billion. This rapid growth in the number of web-pages has prompted the need for search engines with a specialised or focused search. Google is the first to come up with a service to address the search requirements of the academic community.
Now, Google Inc., the online search engine leader, unveiled a website dedicated to literacy, pulling together its books, video, mapping and blogging services to help teachers and educational organisations share reading resources. The site was launched in October during the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s largest gathering of publishing executives, in conjunction with the United Nations and LitCam, a literacy campaign organised by fair officials. The service seeks to combine a rich set of resources to combat global illiteracy. The Google Literacy Project (http://www.google.com/literacy/) aims to provide users with the chance to freely access and share literacy resources from around the world – from e-learning videos and books about literacy, to scholarly articles, reading groups, and literacy-related blogs. Visitors can also use the Google Maps function to search for literacy organisations around the globe. The Google Literacy Project is expected to serve as a bridge to even greater communication and access to important information about literacy problems and their solutions. The site is available in both English and German.
It is to be recalled that two years back, Google embarked a massive project to digitally scan all of the world’s books, a plan that has been embraced by some publishers and opposed by many others. Google has managed to convince a number of scientific and academic publishers to share information. Now, Google has asked literacy groups around the world to upload video segments explaining and demonstrating their successful teaching programs. A billion people around the world over the age of 15 are considered illiterate, according to the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation). A large number of these are from the Muslim countries. The Google Literacy Project is a reflection of changing habits/approaches in the academic world. In the past decade the students and researchers have been using the online search engines as the foremost tool to gather information. The Google Literacy Project shall be of immense help to the students and educators alike.[The writer is associated with Engineering Department,