There's an interesting article in the New Yorker entitled: Digitization and its discontents. by Anthony Grafton. In it the author argues that mass digitization projects may not bring on the research utopia that some predict.
Google’s projects, together with rival initiatives by Microsoft and Amazon, have elicited millenarian prophecies about the possibilities of digitized knowledge and the end of the book as we know it. Last year, Kevin Kelly, the self-styled “senior maverick” of Wired, predicted, in a piece in the Times, that “all the books in the world” would “become a single liquid fabric of interconnected words and ideas.” The user of the electronic library would be able to bring together “all texts—past and present, multilingual—on a particular subject,” and, by doing so, gain “a clearer sense of what we as a civilization, a species, do know and don’t know.” Others have evoked even more utopian prospects, such as a universal archive that will contain not only all books and articles but all documents anywhere—the basis for a total history of the human race.
In fact, the Internet will not bring us a universal library, much less an encyclopedic record of human experience. [...] The rush to digitize the written record is one of a number of critical moments in the long saga of our drive to accumulate, store, and retrieve information efficiently. It will result not in the infotopia that the prophets conjure up but in one in a long series of new information ecologies, all of them challenging, in which readers, writers, and producers of text have learned to survive.
Available exclusively on the New Yorker site, Adventures in Wonderland that provides a good article summary together with many links to some important digitization projects.
[spotted by Peggy Fry & Marylin Raisch]