Google and Slow Food: the software developer who changed the way we search for information, and the organization that changed the way we think about food. The collaboration between the two was announced today: a section dedicated to the Ark of Taste -Slow Food’s catalogue of endangered food products- on the Google Cultural Institute, an online platform to publish and digitally preserve important cultural material that is part of world heritage.
The news was announced today during the conference, “The Ark of Flavors to Save,” dedicated to the Ark of Taste, a project created in 1996 to defend endangered foods from globalization and save them from extinction by signaling their risk of their disappearance. Today more than 2,000 products from all over the world are already listed on the Ark, with the goal of reaching 10,000 in the next few years. The Ark is one of the central themes of Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre 2014.
“The idea to involve Slow Food came about when we realized that Google’s role, that is, to take the huge amount of information present on the web and make it available to users, risked giving great visibility only to big initiatives and leaving smaller ones behind,” said Giorgia Abeltino from Google Italia. “We thought that the Google Cultural Institute should also include food, since this is also part of the heritage of humanity.”
Slow Food President Carlo Petrini, who admits he still writes with a pen and paper and is yet to upgrade to a typewriter, explained that he is convinced on the collaboration with Google as a tool to help farmers make their work known on a global level. In the meeting with Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, it was insisted that the online material belongs neither to Google nor to Slow Food, but remains property of the farmers and producers.
“Eric Schmidt and I risk making a huge error,” said Petrini: “To believe that the virtual network is more important than the physical network of Terra Madre. The physical network has hearts, souls, feelings; it has strength and power. The virtual network has communication power, but it doesn’t have the ability to trigger sentiment. At the Opening Ceremony two nights ago, I saw people crying from the emotion. I’ve never seen anyone weep for Google.”