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Michael Hart, Inventor of the E-book, Dead At 64

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the a-moment-of-silence dept.

News 70

FeatherBoa writes "Michael Hart, the founder and long time driving force behind Project Gutenberg and 1971 inventor of the electronic book has died at his home in Urbana Ill, on Sept. 6th 2011. Project Gutenberg is recognized as one of the earliest and longest-lasting online literary projects, has spawned sister projects in Australia, Canada, Germany and other locations to transcribe public domain literature and make it available via the Internet."

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wtf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37337200)

no link to Project Gutenberg?

here you go (1)

Aerynvala (1109505) | more than 3 years ago | (#37337254)

Link to Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/ [gutenberg.org]

Re:here you go (2, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 3 years ago | (#37337328)

Yeah, nothing more fitting to commemorate the death of the founder of Project Gutenberg than to kill their server under a proper slashdotting...

To do it right? (5, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#37337502)

To do it right they should slashdot it forever and put a link on the slashdot footer to Project Gutenberg.

The guy did more for the preservation of knowledge than you or I could ever hope to do. Even Richard Stallman owes him a debt that can't be repaid - for the idea that we own the knowledge that we share, and its value increases with its commonality. His ideas are the inspiration for the free software movement, Google Books, and many other things.

The first time I downloaded an eBook from Michael Hart, his site was on The List - and The List was under a meg. I read it a dozen times, and have gotten hundreds since. My Android tablet is now configured to search for books "Project Gutenberg first." Over the years I've given back what I could, when I could, but to be honest I got more than I gave. The man had Vision, with a capital V. I'll never forget the premise: that with digital technology replication is costless so if an ebook is worth $1 and distributed to all the people of the world, that work creates billions of dollars worth of knowledge.

Now's a good time to remember and give again what I can.

The passing of a dear friend is seldom more painful than when you owe them something you cannot repay. Farewell, Michael Hart. If the best I can do now is to do what I can to help push your vision forward, I owe you that.

Holy hell but it's dusty in here all of a sudden.

Re:To do it right? (1)

jdavidb (449077) | more than 3 years ago | (#37339290)

but to be honest I got more than I gave

Well, that's the idea, isn't it? The sum is more than the total of its parts. The sum value is far greater than the total effort that was put in, and because of this created value many, many people are able to benefit.

Thank you, Michael Hart, and many people like you, people with big contributions and people with small contributions. Thanks to the multiplying effects of your efforts, I have been greatly benefitting for many years, and thanks to your inspiration, I have contributed where I felt myself capable.

A Great Inspiration to us All (4, Insightful)

coldmist (154493) | more than 3 years ago | (#37337244)

Let me just say that I admire the man for all that he has done. For his vision, and efforts to push us all to bigger and better things.

Project Gutenberg will be a lasting legacy.

Re:A Great Inspiration to us All (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37337278)

... and it's down.

Re:A Great Inspiration to us All (1)

MYakus (1625537) | more than 3 years ago | (#37341430)

Seconded! I've used Gutenberg since I first heard about it as an FTP site (mid-80's?). I owe this man many thanks for the hours spent reading Dumas, Homer, Grant, Lincoln, and Augustine as well as others. Latin, German, and French teachers used his site so their kids could get access to literature for their studies. Hart made that possible. Hart was a brilliant man that made his ideas come to reality.

Thanks for everything.

Re:A Great Inspiration to us All (1)

Phoghat (1288088) | more than 3 years ago | (#37348918)

Amazon should close down its servers for 1 hour in memoriam.

E-book? (-1)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 3 years ago | (#37337246)

Inventor of the text file?

Re:E-book? (1)

Ignotus Non Audax (2455806) | more than 3 years ago | (#37337336)

No, but he was one who envisioned a future of knowledge delivery for all people with electronic files on the Internet, and alas, the one who *actually did it*.

RIP Mr. Hart.

Re:E-book? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37337412)

he lived in 1910?

seriously, project gutenberg is a fine thing.. but it's really a stretch to say that he was the visionary behind "cheap telegrams from automatic libraries for all".
I wrote a project gutenberg displayer in circa 2002 for mobile phones, that doesn't make me the inventor of wirelessly delivered ebooks though. even then they were a bit fuckers about how to access the site and if all pages were there or not, like it was too much of a bother to provide a ftp dump of .txt's once going through all the trouble. point being that they run the project too much as a project that's a project for itself, not for plain distributing of text to everyone and anyone whenever and by whichever way possible.

because my vpn originates in cloud, which makes me more anonymous I suppose, it's not my choice, the fuckers at project gutenberg have blocked my access to it. even to this article about the guy.

*
The Project Gutenberg Web Site is for human (non-automated) users only. Any perceived use of automated tools to access our web site will result in a temporaray or permanent block of your IP address or subnet.

Due to ongoing abuse of our servers and bandwith from `cloud hosting services including Amazon EC2, we have now blocked all access from `cloud hosting services.

If you think you need to download all our books, then use one of our mirrors nearest you: See: list of PG mirrors and PG roboting guidelines.

*

Re:E-book? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37337436)

Yeah, how dare they let you have access to free stuff on their terms?

Re:E-book? (4, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#37337576)

Please, let me be the first among us to say "Fuck you, and the horse you rode in on too."

AC's are what they are, and slashdot is engineered to accept them so that no voice is silenced. I'm OK with that. But to come in here, on this day, and piss on the memory of a man who never did harm and blessed us all with the wealth of ages because you couldn't figure out one of the simplest websites on earth? Fuck you. I mean that sincerely. Die in a fire, please.

Re:E-book? (0)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 3 years ago | (#37338422)

Since I don't have mod points today I will just echo your sentiments. GP, die in a fire.

Re:E-book? (0)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#37338832)

Such is the life of leeches on society, who take and take without a thought of trying to give back. If this AC was genuine with his desire to spread this content, he would have purchased a server and hosted this content on his own dime rather than sucking bandwidth off of somebody else.

I agree, the GP must die in fire, or spend an eternity in some for that attitude alone.

Re:E-book? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37338616)

The inventor of a text file filled with a bunch of public domain books. Don't be a pedantic douche.

I wrote a short obituary (3, Interesting)

angry tapir (1463043) | more than 3 years ago | (#37337248)

I wrote a short obituary for him [techworld.com.au] .

Re:I wrote a short obituary (1)

Dollyknot (216765) | more than 3 years ago | (#37337402)

Just for the record, what did he die of?

Regards,

Peter

Re:I wrote a short obituary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37337534)

When they omit the cause of death in reports, it's almost always suicide. From the few personal accounts I read of people who met him, it seems like he was a "difficult" person with some issues that in hindsight might point to depression and probably some other disorders as well. I think it's fair to speculate that mental illness was likely involved in some way as the cause of his death.

Personally, I think it's a shame when obituaries tip-toe around these issues. Stuff like this was obviously a big part of the person's life and death, yet they leave it out for religious reasons or because they believe it's embarrassing somehow. In effect, social conventions like these make obits a very dishonest affair.

a bit early? (1)

Alan R Light (1277886) | more than 3 years ago | (#37337754)

I only met him once, and he could be a little difficult at times - it took years to convince him to release titles in anything other than ASCII - and certainly he could be single-minded and met frequent disappointments - the latter being the curse of every person who is ahead of their time.

It seems a little early to make such a speculation, however.

Re:a bit early? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37338334)

I only met him once, and he could be a little difficult at times

Yep, nothing more frustrating than a generous, outgoing idealist control freak. See RMS.

Re:a bit early? (2)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#37339116)

I think his reasoning behind ASCII-only content was not only sound, but prescient. I have seen dozens (hundreds?) of data file formats come and go, where the only thing from previous eras is a data code which pre-dates not just the internet but electronic computers in general. Even now, HTML is not nearly as standard, where it seems like everybody (especially the major browser developers) want to keep tweaking the standard with all kinds of bells and whistles.

In this sense, in spite of people otherwise complaining, I think it was a good move on his part to "wait and see". At the very least, any data files containing Gutenberg Project e-books should be in a format that is either completely in the public domain (as ASCII was back when he started unlike nearly all other text formats at the time) or something whose specification is patent free and where the specification is available under an open source license (like the GFDL or CC-by-SA). HTML fits that definition, but we happen to be lucky that it does. Had he gone with WordPerfect files years ago (then considered a reasonable standard when I first came across the Gutenberg texts), there would be some real problems today. Don't get me started on Microsoft Word files.

Does it really matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37337592)

Someone that changed the world for the better died. He had a vision of how he wanted books to move beyond dead trees and followed it with conviction. I've occasionally used the Gutenberg project ebooks and I was grateful that it was available. It's a great resource and I hope it continues to exist long into the future.

Re:Does it really matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37338160)

yeah, truth does matter.
because we other people are still living, to the dead we owe nothing but can't make things better if such stuff is always omitted. besides than that, it's the kind of thing that interests history writers and something that is going to be imporant of someone tries to model his life on idolizing him.

gutenberg projects real problem was always that it didn't focus on purely releasing stuff into every possible nook and cranny, but took the institution approach, even though the stuff was from public domain sources. for starters it being a registered trademark makes it just the opposite of what I had wanted to be a part of in regards of saving books... Royalties from public domain scans done by volunteers, in the age of distributing the entire gutenberg project in your pocket.

1.A. By reading or using any part of this Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work, you indicate that you have read, understand, agree to
and accept all the terms of this license and intellectual property
(trademark/copyright) agreement. If you do not agree to abide by all
the terms of this agreement, you must cease using and return or destroy
all copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in your possession.
If you paid a fee for obtaining a copy of or access to a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work and you do not agree to be bound by the
terms of this agreement, you may obtain a refund from the person or
entity to whom you paid the fee as set forth in paragraph 1.E.8.

Re:Does it really matter? (2)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#37338580)

Copyright law is a tricky thing, and Michael Hart had to navigate through that maze all while trying to preserve books which were in theory part of the public domain in spite of the best efforts of many people to assert copyright on these older works and somehow getting away with it. In as litigious of a society that the United States of America has become, legal disclaimers are not just useful but necessary.

If you read the fine print, you could take Gutenberg texts and send them into "every possible nook and cranny", but you merely had to remove anything which mentioned the Gutenberg Project by doing so. Copyright was never asserted, and what you are quoting here is one of but many paragraphs like this.

What you are complaining about here is the need for lawyers because other lawyers want to screw you over and grind you to dust. Michael Hart lived in the real world, unlike some people. That he also had to pay rent, buy food, and do a few other things all the while trying to promote the archiving of the world's historical literature into electronic form is just more proof that sometimes people just don't get it. Michael Hart certainly didn't die a very wealthy man in terms of Wall Street recognizable assets, but he certainly left the world as a whole much richer as a result of his living on this planet and and certainly left a legacy that will live on for generations to come. That is a hell of a lot more than I can say about you (whoever you are AC) or even myself.

Re:Does it really matter? (1)

CityZen (464761) | more than 3 years ago | (#37340388)

I prefer to see a cause of death in obituaries, especially when the age of death is relatively young.
The more I learn about different ways to die, the more I hope to avoid them.

Re:I wrote a short obituary (2)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 3 years ago | (#37338700)

Just for the record, what did he die of?

TFA doesn't say. Although this may be informative:

Frugal to a fault, Michael glided through life with many possessions and friends, but very few expenses. He used home remedies rather than seeing doctors.

I suspect we may never know how he died, but I'm guessing the lack of seeing qualified medical professionals may have contributed to him dying at 64.

Don't get me wrong; Project Gutenberg is an inspired idea. I can also understand wanting to restrict the amount of manufactured chemicals (drugs) one takes in. But not EVER seeing a doctor? That's ridiculous. Not even "Eccentricity" is an excuse for that.

My apologies to those that were friends of his, but really, didn't you care enough about him to make him go see a doctor once in awhile? The man died at SIXTY FOUR for crying out loud! How much more good work could he have done if some of his friends had just convinced him to see a doctor now and again? Geez!

RIP Michael S. Hart The world is a poorer place without you.

Re:I wrote a short obituary (1)

freudigst (1778168) | more than 3 years ago | (#37338984)

Keep going crazy over other peoples' (former) problems and we'll see if you can manage 54.

Re:I wrote a short obituary (1)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 3 years ago | (#37339654)

Being upset over losing one of literature's leading lights because of a preventable issue != "going crazy over other people's problems."

Have some perspective.

Re:I wrote a short obituary (1)

Dollyknot (216765) | more than 3 years ago | (#37339000)

The chess player Bobby Fischer also died at 64 and it could be said, he committed suicide. All the news media said, he died of kidney failure, but he refused dialysis, it would be a weird coincidence if Hart also died of kidney failure.

Re:I wrote a short obituary (1)

wwphx (225607) | more than 3 years ago | (#37348586)

Age 64. 64 squares on a chess board. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Re:I wrote a short obituary (1)

Beetle B. (516615) | more than 3 years ago | (#37340498)

My apologies to those that were friends of his, but really, didn't you care enough about him to make him go see a doctor once in awhile? The man died at SIXTY FOUR for crying out loud! How much more good work could he have done if some of his friends had just convinced him to see a doctor now and again? Geez!

While I'd hardly qualify as a friend, I did live in the same town as he did for a while, met him only once in person, but communicated a few times over email. I had always planned to take him out to lunch, but alas, that'll never be.

You can either be a friend and respect him and his wishes, or you can just walk all over him and force him to do what your world view thinks is right. You can't be a friend if you do that.

That's not to say an occasional suggestion can't hurt.

I always find it sad that people don't realize that having someone else dictate aspects of your life is often worse than death. That they have their well being at heart doesn't make the situation any more tolerable. I do hope people like yourself weren't badgering him when he was ill.

Re:I wrote a short obituary (1)

Dollyknot (216765) | more than 3 years ago | (#37428090)

Just discovered via Wikipedia, he died of a heart attack.

Re:I wrote a short obituary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37337856)

Poor Michael Hart. He fought for the freedom of etexts but
at the end of his obituary there is nothing better than:
"Copyright 2010 IDG Communications. ABN 14 001 592 650. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of IDG Communications is prohibited."

Urbana Ill (1)

Yuioup (452151) | more than 3 years ago | (#37337316)

My webbrowser (Chrome, Win7) makes it looks like Urbana III. I was wondering if he had lived on a planet ...

Re:Urbana Ill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37337384)

Well he did. Presumably Planet Earth. Is that supposed to be Illinois?

Re:Urbana Ill (1)

Yuioup (452151) | more than 3 years ago | (#37337400)

Yup. It just looks like "Urbana 3" in my browser.

Re:Urbana Ill (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#37337422)

More like your OS. I'm running Chrome in Mint, and the I is thicker and slightly wider spaced than the lls.

IIIIIIIIIIIIII
lllllllllllllllllll

Re:Urbana Ill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37337744)

Your OS must really suck if you have to change the whole thing just to change the font.

Re:Urbana Ill (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#37337868)

Your brain must be thick as shit if you can't figure out that I was referring to it being an OS default font issue rather than a problem with Chrome.

Re:Urbana Ill (1)

daktari (1983452) | more than 3 years ago | (#37339616)

Your brain must be thick as shit if you can't figure out that I was referring to it being an OS default font issue rather than a problem with Chrome.

Yes, let's be disrespectful on a post about the death of someone very much deserving of our respect.

Re:Urbana Ill (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#37339676)

I respect what he's done, and I somehow don't think he's going to be offended by my post. I can't believe you're getting offended by a thread on Slashdot. Aren't there some goatse trolls you can go and reply to?

Re:Urbana Ill (1)

Ster (556540) | more than 3 years ago | (#37346816)

I've never seen "font" misspelled as "browser" and "OS" before...</pedant>

RIP (0)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#37337338)

Project Gutenberg is some major shit. kudos.

Re:RIP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37337540)

Project Gutenberg is some major shit. kudos.

Gosh, I don't know how to mod you... You mean like in "best shit ever" or "this shit stinks"?

Rest in Peace (5, Informative)

Alan R Light (1277886) | more than 3 years ago | (#37337482)

I volunteered with Project Gutenberg for about 5 years in the1990s. Michael was something of an iconoclast, and had his hand in all sorts of things. I had the pleasure of meeting Michael at his home once, and last was in contact with him two years ago.

In a number of conversations with Michael (mostly online) our opinions on methods often clashed, but I have no doubt that he sought to serve humanity to the best of his ability, and especially to bring knowledge and opportunity to everyone in the world - without exception. He strove mightily to break down the barriers to knowledge, and to dethrone the gatekeepers who seek to prevent ordinary people from joining the company of the elite. I used to doubt his assertion that such gatekeepers exist, or that anyone would be so vile as to purposely prevent meritorious students from gaining an education - but I have come to realize that he was mostly correct. When the Digital Millennium Copyright Act came before Congress, Michael was the chief voice speaking out against it - but sadly, few people listened, or even understood why it was important. Michael's work has done a great deal to break down the barriers to knowledge that he despised, and for this we should all be thankful.

Rest in Peace, Michael. You did well.

Re:Rest in Peace (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#37338756)

I would dare say that without Michael Hart, Eldred v. Ashcroft [wikipedia.org] would not have happened, and his effort to speak out against the DMCA and the Sonny Bono Copyright Act (also known as CTEA) will still have political consequences into the future. He drew a line in the sand and there are now many others who are picking up his torch to push back. That the line might have been crossed, at least people know now that territory has been lost and needs to be recaptured.

The most amazing thing he did, ultimately, was to make the decision to do something useful with his enormous grant of computer resources back at a time when such things were almost insanely expensive and to try and contribute back to humanity in general rather than waste his time on computer games or other nonsense. Instead of hunting a Wumpus, chasing a dwarf through a twisted maze of caves looking alike in all directions, or talking to a rather lousy psychoanalyzing savant, he choose instead to type in the U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and started to work on Shakespeare. While I have no doubt that he may have done the other stuff too, he spent his time in a very noble pursuit at a time most of the rest of us really didn't care about such matters and therefore thought more deeply about what would happen to his efforts before the rest of us caught up to him and his leadership.

I was never so fortunate as to have met Michael personally, but I have been instrumental in spreading his works and have been a minor cog in trying to spread this knowledge even further. I certainly owe him a debt of gratitude and he will be missed.

403 (0)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 3 years ago | (#37337564)

WTF, I get a 403 "automated access" reply. I have a standard, run-of-the-mill residential internet connection in Canada. And I've accessed the site in the past. Maybe the traffic has sullied their filter to the point that even localhost is treated as a bot :P

LOL, shows my browser as "RockMelt". It's standard firefox...

Re:403 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37338374)

Probably means you're being proxied by your ISP (or you're running a proxy yourself, maybe for adblocking, and forgot it)?

Re:403 (1)

Marc Madness (2205586) | more than 3 years ago | (#37338898)

I got the same error. I got around it by navigating to the main home page and clicking through to the article I was looking for (in this case his obituary). Now I want to check with my ISP to see if I'm being proxied (as was suggested in another reply).

Miss the Gutenberg in the title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37337774)

For me he is more important for the project gutenberg than for the ebook.

Re:Miss the Gutenberg in the title (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#37338776)

Then it is likely you know nothing about the history of e-books. Study up on the topic before you spout off other nonsense like this.

Dr Greg Newby, CEO of Project Gutenberg... (2)

KeiserSoze (657078) | more than 3 years ago | (#37338178)

... has written a heartfelt and thoughtful obituary:

http://www.gutenberg.org/w/index.php?title=Michael_S._Hart [gutenberg.org]

If you want to honour Michael, go and proof a page at http://www.pgdp.net/ [pgdp.net] - the literary equivalent of pouring one out for this internet giant.

Things the obituaries will leave out (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37338296)

- He was abrasive, often to the point of rudeness --- esp. if he felt you were failing to give him his due for having typed the Declaration of Independence into the storage of a computer system when he was first given the chance to use one.
  - Project Gutenberg has yet to recover from his decision to limit the original texts to just ASCII w/ no mark-up --- providing even the most minimal of text markup was verboten.
  - The failure to provide an initial method for tracking which edition (or ideally copy) of a text was used, and the discarding of many of the original scans has resulted in a great deal of redundant work.

Re:Things the obituaries will leave out (1)

BlackCreek (1004083) | more than 3 years ago | (#37338494)

For a while I tried to read Proj. Gutenberg books in e-readers (both using the Hanlin v3, and a Kindle DX). The lack of any kind of formatting or typesetting information other than line breaks hurts a lot. Specially with poetry.

The formatting of text in a page influences the reading experience a lot, and in all Gutenberg project books I tried to read, the on-screen result was always a mess. On non-English books things are even worse. I tried using some Perl scripts hacked by some people, and also wrote my own code to create epub or mobi files. At some point I just gave up on reading material from the Guttenberg project.

Re:Things the obituaries will leave out (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 3 years ago | (#37339062)

Try the Calibre eBook managing / creating software.

I converted some text/pdf texts very nicely for my nook with it.

http://calibre-ebook.com/ [calibre-ebook.com]

Re:Things the obituaries will leave out (1)

muckracer (1204794) | more than 3 years ago | (#37339244)

Never had a problem with the EPUB's on the Sony PRS-650 formatting-wise.

Re:Things the obituaries will leave out (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#37343568)

Project Gutenberg has yet to recover from his decision to limit the original texts to just ASCII w/ no mark-up --- providing even the most minimal of text markup was verboten.

At the time he made that decision, there was no other markup language which was available to use on the texts, at least one which was available under a public specification that also wasn't encumbered by proprietary restrictions like a patent, trade secret, or copyright. That there were other problems along the way only emphasizes more that he was a pioneer who sort of stumbled along the way and had to discover all of these things that you obviously know with perfect 20/20 hindsight.

Considering he started this before HTML or even SGML, I think Michael Hart did a pretty good job of anticipating future technologies. Every single one of these criticisms can be accounted for in terms of the history of computing and the fact that storage technology has changed dramatically since he entered Gutenberg Text #1. In terms of storage costs, the entire current Gutenberg archive including "original scans", markup, illustrations, and even fonts can be stored on a device that costs less today in even raw dollars (ignoring inflation adjustment) than it cost to store that original Declaration of Independence. Posts of this nature show sheer ignorance to me. It only goes to show to me that pioneers have arrows in their backs from people like this.

Project Gutenberg needs your donation! (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#37338398)

More Info [gutenberg.org] .

You know what you doing. For great justice.

Good achievement, now improve it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37338690)

Project Gutenberg is indeed useful, but I too have bristled at the "inventor of the E-book" moniker. I too believe much of its implementation is incredibly short sighted. Inconsistent and poorly implemented metadata and calling the website "one of the simplest websites on earth" is a stretch and epitomizes the project's self focused viewpoint. This is not to say Hart did not contribute to mankind, I just personally think the Project leave a lot to be desired and I hope a fresh wind blows in with an eye toward the future not a 1990's viewpoint. It would make sense for the leadership to prescribe a "correct" way to do or phrase things and not let "just anything" be okay.

Re:Good achievement, now improve it. (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#37339274)

If you see a problem... fix it. Either you are a blowhard and just like to criticize, or you have the technological capability to be able to improve all of the things you are complaining about. Michael Hart started the process, and he knew it was going to take more than a lifetime to be able to get it all put together with the vision he had. These texts are in the public domain, so there is absolutely no excuse for you to sit back and complain if you haven't at least made a reasonable effort to improve upon these texts and tried to make the improvements you are suggesting are necessary.

Go, spend your own money, set up a website, and show us how to do it right. I dare you! Seriously! If you want to tell other people how to do something they are doing as best as they can, you won't get any sympathy from me.

Re:Good achievement, now improve it. (1)

Jerry (6400) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344148)

I like the way he did it better than the way you are not doing it.

Huh.. (1)

PessimysticRaven (1864010) | more than 3 years ago | (#37340024)

Am I the only one that's noticed that only the AC's seem to have a problem with Hart's death/title/contributions? Funny how no one's willing to put a name to the complaint.

That said, anyone who dies and leaves the tools to encourage people to peel themselves away from mindless entertainment and makes reading a bit more accessable, gets my respect.

Wikipedia-Editors be damned!

Library of the 21st century (1)

bbasgen (165297) | more than 3 years ago | (#37340346)

Very sad to read this news. Michael was a visionary with a strong drive and passion. He wasn't always a fan of the latest technology, but digitizing books was always his top priority. I hope the project continues forward with renewed vigor, it is an incredibly important effort. Consider that without something like Project Gutenberg, digital libraries in the 21st century may not be free, open, and public.

I knew him (1)

dlapine (131282) | more than 3 years ago | (#37340830)

My boss suggested that I attend a weekly "geek lunch" that a group of the older computer savvy fellows held at the U of I's Beckman Institute and met him there. I was aware of Project Gutenberg before that but hadn't used it much. Michael was a good advocate for ebooks before anyone got around to coining that particular terminology. The last few times we met, I remember him being very excited as he had samples of various new ebook readers to try out. He was testing them to see well they integrated the Gutenberg Project and was glad that more people would have easy access to it.

Over last fall, the group met weekly and I helped him with the process of making digital copies of the Gutenberg archive on different filesystems on individual drives. The entire Gutenberg archive is about 300GB with everything extracted and we could dual format a 750GB drive to fit a copy on NTFS and another one on ext3. That was a fun experience; most people don't get to play with a real life 300GB data set.

I hadn't been to a meeting in a while, darn it. I'll miss him.

A good neighbor (1)

ophecleide (842951) | more than 3 years ago | (#37341094)

I lived next to him while I was attending U of I as an undergrad. He was a great neighbor. The house I was in had five bedrooms, all occupied by male college students. He told us we could have parties and be loud, so long as we warned him, and gave him $20 to get a burger and see a movie.

Re:A good neighbor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37344668)

and gave him $20 to get a burger and see a movie.

Now that's funny!

I proofed a few extra pages last night in his honor. I think it's a shame that more people didn't know who he was.

Distribued Proofreaders (1)

Stephen Gilbert (554986) | more than 3 years ago | (#37342832)

Why not head over to Distributed Proofreaders and do a few pages in his memory: http://www.pgdp.net/ [pgdp.net]

mr. loudheart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37344636)

Michael Hart is bigger man than you know him. 40 years of contribution is not light! His works mean something to a lot of people, including myself. To me, he is not only Michael Hart but loudheart. Thank you Michael for your works.

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