Category Archives: History

eBooks: 2011 – The ebook in ten points

These ten quotes are excerpts from email interviews. Their authors are Michael Hart, John Mark Ockerbloom, Robert Beard, Jean-Paul, Nicolas Pewny, Marc Autret, Pierre Schweitzer, Denis Zwirn, Catherine Domain and Henk Slettenhaar.

August 1998

“We consider etext to be a new medium, with no real relationship to paper, other than presenting the same material, but I don’t see how paper can possibly compete once people each find their own comfortable way to etexts, especially in schools.” (Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg in 1971)

September 1998

“I’ve gotten very interested in the great potential the net has had for making literature available to a wide audience. (…) I am very excited about the potential of the internet as a mass communication medium in the coming years. I’d also like to stay involved, one way or another, in making books available to a wide audience for free via the net, whether I make this explicitly part of my professional career, or whether I just do it as a spare-time volunteer.” (John Mark Ockerbloom, founder of The Online Books Page in 1993) Continue reading eBooks: 2011 – The ebook in ten points

eBooks: 2010 – A UNESCO atlas for endangered languages

In 2010, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) launched a free Interactive Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger.

The online edition is a complement of the print edition (3rd edition, 2010), edited by Christopher Moseley, and available in English, French and Spanish, with previous editions in 1996 and 2001.

2,473 languages were listed on 25 July 2011, with a search engine by country and area, language name, number of speakers from/to, vitality and ISO 639-3 code.

The language names have been indicated in English, French and Spanish transcriptions. Alternate names (spelling variants, dialects or names in non-Roman scripts) are also provided. Continue reading eBooks: 2010 – A UNESCO atlas for endangered languages

eBooks: 2009 – 6,909 living languages in the Ethnologue

6,909 living languages were cataloged in the 16th edition (2009) of “The Ethnologue: Languages of the World”, an encyclopedic reference work freely available on the web since 1996, with a print book for sale.

As stated by Barbara Grimes, its editor from 1971 to 2000, the Ethnologue is “a catalog of the languages of the world, with information about where they are spoken, an estimate of the number of speakers, what language family they are in, alternate names, names of dialects, other socio-linguistic and demographic information, dates of published Bibles, a name index, a language family index, and language maps.” (NEF Interview)

A core team of researchers in Dallas, Texas, has been helped by thousands of linguists gathering and checking information worldwide. A new edition of the Ethnologue is published approximately every four years.

The Ethnologue has been an active research project since 1950. It was founded by Richard Pittman as a catalog of minority languages, to share information on language development needs around the world with his colleagues at SIL International and other language researchers. Continue reading eBooks: 2009 – 6,909 living languages in the Ethnologue

eBooks: 2001 – Broadband became the norm

Henk Slettenhaar has extensive knowledge of communication technology, with a long career in Geneva, Switzerland, and California. Ten years after getting a broadband connection at home, he reads ebooks on a Kindle or an iPad.

Henk joined CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva  in 1958 to work with the first digital computer. He was involved in the development of CERN’s first digital networks.

His U.S. experience began in 1966 when he joined a team at SLAC (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center) for 18 months to build a film digitizer. Returning to SLAC in 1983, he designed a digital monitoring system, which was used for more than ten years.

For 25 years he tought information technology at Webster University, Geneva. He is the former head of the Telecom Management Program created in fall 2000. He also worked as a consultant for a number of international organizations.

Continue reading eBooks: 2001 – Broadband became the norm

eBooks: 2000 – Cotres.net, works of digital literature

A writer and musician, Jean-Paul has offered beautiful works of digital literature, while searching how hyperlinks could expand his writing towards new directions.

In October 1998, Jean-Paul switched from being a print author to being an hypermedia author, and created cotres.net (“cotres” could be translated by “cutters” in English) as a website “telling stories in 3D”, either French-language stories or plurilingual stories.

Jean-Paul also enjoyed the freedom of online self-publishing. He explained in June 2000: “The internet allows me to do without intermediaries, such as record companies, publishers and distributors. Most of all, it allows me to crystallize what I have in my head: the print medium (desktop publishing, in fact) only allows me to partly do that. (…) Surfing the web is like radiating in all directions (I am interested in something and I click on all the links on a home page) or like jumping around (from one click to another, as the links appear). You can do this in the written media, of course. But the difference is striking. So the internet changed how I write. You don’t write the same way for a website as you do for a script or a play. (…) Continue reading eBooks: 2000 – Cotres.net, works of digital literature

eBooks: 2000 – Experiments by best-selling authors

In 2000, Stephen King was the first best-selling author to launch digital experiments, followed by Frederick Forsyth and Arturo Pérez-Reverte in Europe and many other authors then, for example Paolo Coehlo in Brazil.

Stephen King

As a first step, Stephen King distributed in March 2000 his short story “Riding the Bullet” as an electronic file, with 400,000 downloads during the first 24 hours in the digital bookstores that were selling it.

In the wake of the media attention that followed, Stephen King launched its own website in July 2000 to self-publish his epistolary novel “The Plant” in episodes. The chapters were available at regular intervals and could be downloaded in several formats (PDF, OeB, HTML, TXT). After the publication of the sixth chapter in December 2000, the author decided to stop the experiment, because more and more readers were downloading the chapters without paying for them. Continue reading eBooks: 2000 – Experiments by best-selling authors

eBooks: 2000 – The web portal yourDictionary

Five years before co-founding yourDictionary.com in February 2000, as the portal for all languages without any exception, Robert Beard created the website A Web of Online Dictionaries (WOD) in 1995.

Robert Beard was a language teacher at Bucknell University, in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. In September 1998, his website provided an index of 800 online dictionaries in 150 languages, as well as sections for multilingual dictionaries, specialized English dictionaries, thesauri and other vocabulary aids, language identifiers and guessers, an index of dictionary indices, the “Web of Online Grammars”, and the “Web of Linguistic Fun”, i.e. linguistics for non-specialists.

Robert Beard wrote in September 1998: “There was an initial fear that the web posed a threat to multilingualism on the web, since HTML and other programming languages are based on English and since there are simply more websites in English than any other language. However, my websites indicate that multilingualism is very much alive and the web may, in fact, serve as a vehicle for preserving many endangered languages. I now have links to dictionaries in 150 languages and grammars of 65 languages. Moreover, the new attention paid by browser developers to the different languages of the world will encourage even more websites in different languages.” (NEF Interview) Continue reading eBooks: 2000 – The web portal yourDictionary

eBooks: 1999 – The internet as a novel character

The internet is one of the characters of Alain Bron’s second novel, “Sanguine sur toile”, available in print from Le Choucas in 1999, and in PDF from 00h00 in 2000. This novel won the Lions Club International Prize in 2000.

About the novel

Alain Bron wrote in November 1999 in an email interview: “In French, ‘toile’ means the web as well as the canvas of a painting, and ‘sanguine’ is the red chalk of a drawing as well as one of the adjectives derived from blood (‘sang’ in French). But would a love of colors justify a murder? ‘Sanguine sur toile’ is the strange story of an internet surfer caught up in an upheaval inside his own computer, which is being remotely operated by a very mysterious person whose only aim is revenge.

I wanted to take the reader into the worlds of painting and enterprise, which intermingle, escaping and meeting up again in the dazzle of software. The reader is invited to try to untangle for himself the threads twisted by passion alone. To penetrate the mystery, he will have to answer many questions. Even with the world at his fingertips, isn’t the internet surfer the loneliest person in the world? In view of the competition, what is the greatest degree of violence possible in an enterprise these days? Does painting tend to reflect the world or does it create another one? I also wanted to show that images are not that peaceful. You can use them to take action, even to kill.” (NEF Interview) Continue reading eBooks: 1999 – The internet as a novel character

eBooks: 1999 – The Ulysses Bookstore on the web

Founded in 1971 by Catherine Domain in Paris, France, Librairie Ulysse (Ulysses Bookstore) is the oldest bookstore in the world dedicated only to travel. The bookstore launched its website in 1999 and a small publishing venture in 2010.

Nested on Ile Saint-Louis surrounded by the river Seine, Librairie Ulysse has offered 20,000 books, maps and magazines, out of print and new, about any country, all packed up in a tiny space, with some treasures impossible to find anywhere else.

Beginning

What were the first steps of Librairie Ulysse? Catherine wrote on the bookstore’s website: “After traveling for ten years on every continent, I stopped and told myself: ‘What am I going to do for a living?’ I was aware of the need to insert myself in a sociey in one way or another. I made a choice by deduction, refusing to have any boss or employee.

Remembering my grandfathers, one being a navigator, and the other one being a bookseller in Perigord [a region in Southern France], and noting that I needed to visit more than a dozen bookstores before finding any documentation on a country as close as Greece, a ‘travel bookstore’ came to my mind during a world tour while I was sailing between Colombo and Surabaya. Continue reading eBooks: 1999 – The Ulysses Bookstore on the web

eBooks: 1999 – Librarians in cyberspace

To help their patrons deal with the internet, to select and organize information for them, to create and maintain websites, to check specialized databases and to update online catalogs became daily tasks for librarians.

Here are two examples, with Peter Raggett at the Central Library of OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) and Bruno Didier at the Library of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France.

At the OECD Central Library

Based at the OECD headquarters in Paris, the Central Library offered 60,000 monographs and 2,500 periodicals in 1998, as well as microfilms, CD-ROMs, and databases like Dialog, Lexis-Nexis and UnCover. The library began setting up its own webpages in 1996, on the intranet of the organization, in order to support the staff’s research work. Continue reading eBooks: 1999 – Librarians in cyberspace