Category Archives: PG News

Project Events, Goals, Updates, etc.

PG World War I & II Bookshelves

Next month will mark the centenary of the start of World War I. People around the world will be commemorating those that fought in the Great War. If you’re interested in learning more about the war then you may be interested to learn that the Project Gutenberg archives contain a large number of works, both factual and fiction, from both WWI and WWII. (this year also marks the 75th anniversary of the Second World War).

To help you find and navigate these ebooks, PG volunteers have created bookshelves dedicated to each war. Continue reading PG World War I & II Bookshelves

Michael Hart: Birthday Remembrance

[In commemoration of Michael’s birthday, Jim Berger has written some reflections–Ed]

Michael Hart’s birthday comes around in just a few days. What do you remember?

Did you ever hear about the two buildings Michael disappeared in South Korea?

Or how about sitting out one of the riots during the 1968 Democratic Convention, with his girlfriend, atop a squad car?

If Michael’s life was not charmed, it certainly was interesting.

I can testify to keeping the water up in his furnace in the dead of winter while Michael was out of town. Michael’s home was storied and rightly so, for Michael was an inveterate collector of all things remotely interesting.

We played Frisbee golf, and once on Halloween, I savored an authentic, Star-Wars, light saber that lit up to perfection and made all the right noises.

But at Michael’s funeral, it became clear that I knew but half of it, if that much.

The dining room for lunch at the Eastland Suites Hotel & Conference Center was abuzz with fantastic stories and remembrances as we paused to break bread and personalize our grief with one another.

I had not known that Michael had been an Eagle Scout.

There is still much we could all learn about the man, and so, that is the question: What do you remember?

And with a bit of luck, we may even be able to share our stories on the radio. Negotiations to that effect are just getting underway. I am hopeful that one particular call-in program will find time for us, perhaps on Friday, at 10 a.m. Central Time.

As I say, negotiations are just getting underway. We’ll know more by Thursday. But that is something to shoot for. And dare I say, the richer and broader the response right here, the easier it will be for making a case to those who decide these things.

In that vein, I refer everyone to WILL – Focus – June 07, 2011, which 33 minutes into the audio file contains the last known phone call by Michael Hart to this particular radio, call-in program. Michael did not identify himself, but I recognized him, and we got together for lunch a short time thereafter.

It would be good to locate other calls of Michael’s from those audio files. It would be good to locate them all.

Who would join in such a search? That would require formally splitting up the task and zeroing in on topics about computers or
about books. I’m good for up to three hours of listening for Hart clips, if anyone else will join me.

Please consider that, and then let’s get in touch. But for the moment, for Michael’s birthday, what do you remember about Michael
Hart?

It’s time to celebrate an incredible man. Please share what you have, be it modest or grand. Just click on the edit button and insert your own text at the bottom of the box that opens up below. Then save the page. Together we can get the whole picture of Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg.

Project Gutenberg 40,000th eBook Milestone!

With little fanfare, Project Gutenberg reached #40000 in its eBook series; Extinct Birds: an attempt to unite in one volume a short account of those birds which have become extinct in historical times: that is, within the last six or seven hundred years: to which are added a few which still exist, but are on the verge of extinction, by Walter Rothschild.

From Wikipedia: Extinct Birds covers globally extinct and rare birds as well as hypothetical extinct species which include bird taxa which existence are only based on written or oral reports or on paintings. The accounts of the extinct bird taxa are based on Rothschild’s lecture On extinct and vanishing birds published in the Proceedings of the 4th International Ornithological Congress 1905 in London. Continue reading Project Gutenberg 40,000th eBook Milestone!

October 2011: Loss of our Founder

As many people are aware, Project Gutenberg’s founder passed away on September 6.  Information about the life and legacy of Michael Hart is online here: www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Michael_S._Hart

Thanks to the many fans, friends, and eBook enthusiasts who shared in our sadness of this sudden loss.  Michael will be remembered fondly, and there is no doubt that his leadership in digitization and free distribution of literature has had a lasting impact.  Part of that legacy is the ongoing activity of Project Gutenberg, which continues unabated.

I do intend to maintain this monthly newsletter, and as always the newsletter welcomes contributions of all types.

Greg Newby
Continue reading October 2011: Loss of our Founder

Michael Hart 1947-2011

Two days ago, on the 6th September 2011, Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg, was found dead in his home in Urbana, Illinois, aged just 64.

Michael invented the eBook (electronic book) in 1971 when he typed the U.S. Declaration of Independence into the Xerox Sigma V mainframe at the University of Illinois in celebration of the American Bicentennial. Just six out of the then 100 users on the network downloaded the file, but it was from these humble beginnings that Michael founded Project Gutenberg, which is now recognized as one of the earliest and longest-lasting online literary projects. Continue reading Michael Hart 1947-2011

Project Gutenberg 40th Year Special Projects

We have several special projects we will be starting on or around July 4, and if you have a project you like to work on, why not send us a note and see if we can get a team of volunteers to help.

Our newest project is to solicit suggestions where this project should be in it’s 50th year.  Suggestions are:

  1. Make it more obvious that PG wants error messages–how to write them, where to send them, etc.
  2. Make it more obvious that PG will send DVD’s so the people who have to pay by the megabyte can use PG.
  3. An extensive library of human read audiobooks.
  4. Please make it more obvious how to do PG eBooks for Kindle, Sony, nook, and other eReaders.
  5. More current books under Creative Commons licenses. More apps for cellphones.  A model to encourage new writers to share their work in the same spirit. Showcase how people who used to be on the bad sides of various digital divides enjoyed and benefitted.
  6. Please add more bookshelves, particularly one to do eBooks from each country and make sure each one has at least one eBook to show how it can be done.
  7. Proofread the Top 100 or so downloaded books to the point where we they approach perfection.

So right now I’d like as many volunteers as possible to let me know if they would like to proofread Top Tens.

Send all emails to: hart@pglaf.org

Considering the 40th Anniversary of eBooks

How do I love ebooks, let me count the ways:

40 years ago there was only one eBook on the Internet that you could download, and the operators were resistant to an additional eBook being added more than once a year, and it had to be a short one, given the space and bandwidth.

From 1971 to 1976 it was an uphill struggle for permission to put The U.S. Constitution online as an eBook because it was so much larger than all the previous eBooks, but it is still standing as one of the great early Net achievements, not only because it was larger than previous ones but also because the person who made it available was anonymous and remained so in spite of all of my efforts to locate and to send my thanks.

40 years ago…one title available at Project Gutenberg.

Today…one hundred thousand titles available at PG, and 2.1 million available at The World Public Library, and 2.9 million at The Internet Archive, 1.6 million at Wattpad. That’s 6.7 million just off the top of my head and without adding in all of the Google eBooks, which is hard to do as Google doesn’t have an index for counting eBooks.

40 years ago just one language. Continue reading Considering the 40th Anniversary of eBooks

Project Gutenberg: Perfect eBooks Challenge

In an unprecedented move, Michael Hart, the inventor of eBooks, has announced he will buy lunch for anyone who can find errors, to the tune of one per chapter [10K of text] in the flagship of eBooks, The Alice in Wonderland Stories.

This includes the two books that are often portrayed together: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, by Charles Dodgson [Lewis Carroll]

The requirements are simply that one downloads the latest eBook versions from Project Gutenberg, and email them to Prof. Hart, so he can verify that you are working from the proper edition.

If you can find as much as one error per chapter or the 10,000 letter/character equivalent, Prof. Hart will drive to Chicago, Indianapolis or St. Louis, or nearby locations to be agreed on, to buy you lunch at Chicago’s Giordano’s Pizza, or King’s BBQs in Indianapolis. A St. Louis primary location not yet chosen. Continue reading Project Gutenberg: Perfect eBooks Challenge

4th Anniversary of Project Gutenberg Canada

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the launch of Project Gutenberg Canada on July 1st 2007.

We launched PG Canada to give Canadians full access to online versions of works in our public domain that are under copyright in other countries, notably the United States and the European Union. These countries have foolishly extended their copyright durations; Canada has defended its citizens’ ownership of the public domain by leaving copyright durations largely untouched. The range of our titles reflects this.

But PG Canada has grown far beyond its modest beginnings. Our catalogue now includes more than 800 titles, from Canada and other countries, in French and English, but also in other languages. Many of our titles are from the twentieth century; but some of our Canadian historical titles date back to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

The first four years have far exceeded our most optimistic projections. And our future is bright.

Mark Akrigg
Project Gutenberg Canada

Please note that the 800th eBook presented by Project Gutenberg of Canada is a GREAT history of building the transcontinental railroad!  Well worth a look, even if only to scan the high points.  A major accomplishment!

Project Gutenberg’s Official Facebook Page

In exploring new ways of connecting people to Project Gutenberg’s vast collection of free ebooks we’ve created our very own Facebook page. Here you’ll find all kinds of information and status updates.

It should be noted that this is very much experimental – it may work, then again it may not. The more everyone gets involved, the more successful it will be.

Head over to the new Project Gutbenberg Facebook Page.

Please note that there is another PG page on Facebook, but the above link is the official one.

Volunteers Wanted

Our gutenberg.org webmaster, Marcello Perathoner, is looking for people with previous PG and Facebook experience to help administer the new Facebook page. Tasks will include; answering questions from users, removing spam, writing status updates, etc.

At this time we’ve no idea how much traffic the page will generate nor how much time it will require to administer, but if you’re able to spare a little time, then we’d love to have you onboard.

How to apply

First, go over to Facebook and ‘Like’ the page, then send Marcello an email (webmaster@gutenberg.org). Please include your Facebook name in the email so he know’s who to make an admin.