Thursday, 8 September 2011

Project Gutenberg founder Michael Hart

I was moved to learn that Michael Hart, who did humankind a gigantic service by creating Project Gutenberg (, died a couple of days ago. Project Gutenberg - or PG: I share initials with it - was a boon to me even before I was given a Kindle for my last birthday: I read Tolstoy's Resurrection on my trusty (but no more) Psion Series 5MX, one small screen at a time, then when I got a BlackBerry I tried Ulysses - about 8 lines at a time, absolutely hopeless. Now I have it, and a selection of other classics, as well as some of my own writing that I might need to look at, important reading like the Max Planck Institute's report, and a friend's first novel, all immediately to hand.

I did once contribute a work to PG, obtaining a copy of Browning's complete poems from Oxford City Library and scanning Pheidippides - what did you expect? - then working through the OCR output to make it as it should be. PG - Mr Hart himself, I think - was unimpressed that I had provided them with only one poem. Well, I now have it as part of an e-book of Browning's shorter poems. And enough other classic stuff to last me for the rest of my life, I suspect. All copyright-free.

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