In collaboration with the Institut Pasteur and numerous French and international institutions, Internet users around the world can now explore humanity's greatest inventions and discoveries in the new interactive online project from Google Arts and Culture. This new exhibition, entitled Once Upon a Try, Stories of Inventions and Discoveriesis launched this Wednesday, March 6, 2019.
Art and culture at the service and for the good of all? Not so sure when we know that, thanks to its ability to aggregate and exploit more and more new uses, more and more personal data, Google represents more than 90% of the European online search market. Are we moving towards a "cultural hegemony" on the Internet?
Cn Wednesday 6 March, Google Arts & Culture revealed Once Upon a Trythe largest online exhibition of inventions and discoveries ever made. Collections, stories and knowledge from more than 110 renowned institutions in 23 countries, including Pasteur Institute...are gathered together. They highlight millennia of major scientific advances and the great minds that brought them to light.
This would be the largest online collection of documents on the history of science and technology. In collaboration with curators and archivists from 110 partner institutions, including 12 in France, Google engineers have put online nearly 350 digital exhibitions, 200 virtual tours of historical sites and 200,000 digitized documents, some of which have never been published before.
Besides meeting Louis Pasteuryou can also discover the Curie coupleas well as a host of lesser-known heroes, such as Clément Aderthe man who fights climate change alone with artificial glaciers or Mary Anning, paleontologist pioneer who discovered the pterodactyl. The exhibitions highlighted recall some stories of "lucky accidents" and "epic failures", such as the discovery of X-rays by Röntgen or the ingenious submarine Isaac Peral's electrical. Some of these inventors have even died for their projects. This was the case of Marie Curie, the search for the polonium that led to his own death from radioactive poisoning.
Despite these setbacks, human activity is an endless journey, punctuated by exhilarating discoveries, such as the stroke of genius that made it possible to understand Archimedes' thrust. Stories of pioneers such as Marie Curie and Roland Moreno or Ada Lovelace are a mine of tips Incommensurable, they allow us to understand why it is important to know how to accept and understand failures in order to rebound better.
As a partner in this project, the Institut Pasteur invites Internet users to immerse themselves in the daily life of its founder, Louis Pasteur, through the virtual visit of the Pasteur Museum installed in the former apartment that the illustrious scholar occupied on the Institute's campus for the last seven years of his life. This is an opportunity to discover the more intimate story of this scientist, who was passionate about painting in his youth and whose revolutionary discoveries of the 19th century still serve as the founding principles of science today.
To enable this virtual visit, a Street View team has digitized the museum's rooms, so that visitors can browse online through the museum's rooms and see the different rooms of the museum. Louis Pasteur's private apartments as well as the crypt of Byzantine inspiration where he rests with his wife, surprising places not easily accessible to the general public.
Louis Pasteur's private apartments
Through four virtual exhibitions, Internet users will be able to rediscover the scientific work of Louis Pasteur and in particular how he came to work on rabies and develop the vaccine that made him world famous.
"What we wish to share, as Louis Pasteur formulated it, is the possible and desirable alliance of science and art. We certainly wish to rediscover his scientific contribution, which is considerable, but also to show a facet that is often unknown to the general public: Louis Pasteur, artist and art lover". says Muriel Hilaire-Soule, head of the Pasteur Museum. « Even today, many artists still draw inspiration from the current and past work of Pasteur Institute researchers. Therefore, we will continue to enrich the platform with new stories and objects to make them accessible to the greatest number of people. »
Thanks to Google Arts and Culture, everyone can now explore more than 400 interactive exhibits that pay tribute to humanity's greatest advances in science and technology, the visionaries who shaped our world, and stories of epic failures and happy accidents.
The project is accompanied in particular by two new immersion experiences. Internet users can (re)discover the history of the Big Bang, the birth and evolution of the Universe, through an exceptional augmented reality experiment carried out in collaboration with CERN particle physicists and narrated by actress Tilda Swinton. Another interactive experiment, using Google's machine learning technologies, invites users to explore more than 127,000 images from NASA's archive.
" Making information and knowledge accessible to as many people as possible is at the heart of Google's work every day. With "Once Upon A Try" we celebrate the inventions and discoveries that have shaped the world, the men and women who have revealed them and the little stories behind the big ones. Together with our partners around the world, we put online inspiring and sometimes surprising stories that reveal that behind every discovery, there is a dream, an idea, attempts, failures and surprises. We hope that this will encourage visitors to reveal their own moment of genius, "says Amit Sood, Director of Google Arts & Culture.
Towards a cultural monopoly?
Google addiction affects four billion earthlings; it has become a planetary addiction: it is impossible to search for anything on the internet without going through the Mountain View firm. When a major national institution, the Pasteur Institute, decided to set up its first virtual museum there, it was the first time it had ever been set up. Once Upon a Tryit is not only technological, cultural or scientific information. It is information of a political nature.
Google is no longer just a general search engine. It also creates areas of public attraction for entire segments of human activity. This is the case of the acquisition of the planet through Google Earth, of commerce with Google shopping, of transport with Google Car, and of culture with the launch last May of the YouTube Music pay-per-view offer. (1) and Google Arts & Culture created in 2011 to put all the world's museums on the application. You can now visit 1000 museums in 70 different countries, without moving from your armchair.
However, it is regrettable that the reproductions are not downloadable, and that Google suggests that these images are protected by copyright, even though many of the works concerned have been in the public domain for a long time, for the free dissemination of culture. Such as explains Libération in an article published at the launch of Google Arts & Culture, "There is no option to download these images in high resolution, and it is impossible to save them with a classic right-click ("Save image as"). So there is no way to appropriate the work and study it outside the framework provided by Google. « So if for example I am a history or art history teacher, I am obliged to get my students to enter this site to show them the work ".sums up Adrienne Alix, president of Wikimedia France, who shares her "critical vision" of the Google Art Project in a blog post . "I can't reuse it within my own course, fully integrating it. Nor for a lecture. »
In September 2018, Google released " Art Selfie "In France: take a picture of yourself and the machine-learning algorithm identifies the faces that most closely resemble your features in Google's database of paintings. « Compare your selfie with works of art offered by partner museums "describes the application Arts and Culture from Google. In the United States, the app, launched at the beginning of 2018, would have generated more than 70 million selfies, the firm explains. But what happens to the photos taken by your smartphone? Certainly not to enrich Google's own database of millions of face photos ..., no! since its business model is based primarily on the billions of billions of personal data it constantly collects on its users.
In its strategy of conquering major areas of interest, Google is looking for collaborations. That of the Pasteur Institute is a further example of donating our scientific heritage to complement our cultural heritage. A monopoly of culture on the Internet.
To paraphrase Henri Verdier(2), we are no longer quite in the heroic times when the Internet was perceived above all as a threat to culture, but we are still a long way from having succeeded in uniting all creators in the service of a genuine project for civilization .
The Once Upon a Try exhibition is available on Google Arts & Culture as well as on the iOS and Android application. On social networks, reactions can be shared with #onceuponatry and @institutepasteur
(1) YouTube Music allows users to search by snippets of lyrics. Simply write a line in the search bar to find the corresponding song.
(2) Henri Verdier is an entrepreneur and a specialist in French digital technology. Ambassador for Digital, he was also the inter-ministerial Director of Digital and Information System of the French State and General Data Administrator.
To go further :
– Article from France Culture on Shoshana Zuboff's latest book, "The age of surveillance capitalism" (Public Affairs Editor, January 2019) / No translation