The God Shop

The God Shop

I’ve had a bit of a mental paper jam, in that it appears I’m not to write anything of particular substance without first I should relieve myself of a play that’s been taking space in my head for the better part of two years, now. And so — tadaa! — I’m writing a play.

Perhaps it’s my Internet Attention Disorder showing, but lately I despair of links that lead to The Atlantic. It would seem their essayists have little more to say than writers anywhere else, and yet they possess so many more words with which to say it.

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Raise a Glass to Michael S. Hart, Founder of Project Gutenberg

Raise a Glass to Michael S. Hart, Founder of Project Gutenberg

This week Project Gutenberg announced that its founder, Michael S. Hart, had died at the age of 64. You may not know the name… but you are probably familiar with Michael’s work, particularly if you’ve ever read an eBook. Michael believed that the great written works of the world should be freely available, and freely accessible, regardless of device. Project Gutenberg — founded on his philosophy — this week published his obituary: Hart was best known for his 1971 invention of electronic books, or eBooks. He founded Project Gutenberg, which is recognized as one of the earliest and longest-lasting online literary projects. He often told this story of how he had the idea for eBooks. He had been granted access to significant computing power at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. On July 4 1971, after being inspired by a free printed copy of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, he decided to type the text into a computer, and to transmit it to other users on the computer network. From this beginning, the digitization and distribution of literature was to be Hart’s life’s work, spanning over 40 years. Hart was an ardent technologist and futurist. A lifetime tinkerer, he acquired hands-on expertise with the technologies of the day: radio, hi-fi stereo, video equipment, and of course computers. He constantly looked into the future, to anticipate technological advances. One of his favorite speculations was that someday, everyone would be able to have their own copy of the Project Gutenberg collection or whatever subset desired. This vision came true, thanks to the advent of large inexpensive computer disk drives, and to the...

“I’ve always liked the idea of a special Hugo to be awarded (by force, perhaps) to literary authors who write books dripping with themes filleted from mainstream SF and then deny that it’s science fiction ‘because it’s not about robots and spaceships’.”
        — Terry Pratchett

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