Backed by global-search-giant Google Inc., the foundation of aging South African leader Nelson Mandela is putting thousands of documents on the Internet, from a 1977 letter smuggled out of prison to his membership cards in the Methodist Church.
Google said Tuesday that it was providing a $1.25 million grant to the Nelson Mandela Center of Memory, part of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, to help preserve a trove of photographs, letters, calendars and journals through digital technology.
The $1.25 million grant is seen as a possible stepping stone to a broader relationship with Mr. Mandela’s foundation, which is now disseminating digital bursts of his memorabilia through its website (www.nelsonmandela.org). Google is already helping the website with indexing, but it would also like to provide the search technology that will allow people around the world to troll through the life of the anti-apartheid icon.
“Google wants to help bring the world’s historical heritage online, and the Internet offers new ways to preserve and share this information,” said Luke Mckend, Google’s South Africa country manager.
Mr. Mandela’s foundation is expected to decide in coming weeks whether to use Google’s search technology, say executives for the company and the foundation. The decision hinges largely on accessibility and affordability for users, said Sello Hatang, the foundation’s spokesman. A key consideration, he added, is whether Google technology will allow a poor person in rural South Africa to tap into Mr. Mandela’s archives with a mobile phone.
* You know what the calculations, by Mandela, are about, right?