Posts Tagged ‘Industrial’

How Michael Hart Revolutionized the Internet

September 25th, 2022

Most pundits agree that in the history of knowledge and scholarship, e-books are as important as the Gutenberg press, invented five centuries ago. Many would say that they constitute a far larger quantum leap. As opposed to their print equivalents, e-books are public goods: cost close to nothing to produce, replicate, and disseminate. Anyone with access to minimal technology or even the oldest computers can read e-books.

Project Gutenberg eBooks were being read on iPods within a week of the latter’s introduction, not to mention cell phones and smarter variants thereof, such as the iPhone. With well over 4 billion cell (mobile) phones (according to the United Nations) compared c. 1 billion computers, the former may well turn out to be the preferred platform for reading text.

Over the years, I have interviewed Michael Hart and we have corresponded prolifically on a variety of topics. I have always relished his anti-authoritarian streak. Michael is a true, unvarnished and non-compromising independent, out to empower the individual at the expense of faceless, heartless corporate and government bureaucracies.

March 8 being Michael’s 62nd birthday, we have decided to publish snippets of our exchanges.

Happy Birthday, Michael!!!

Sam:

Some people refer to you as “The First Citizen of the Internet” …

Michael:

Perhaps because I was the first person to be on the Internet’s systems without being paid to do so. Everyone else I knew of was a government employee, staff, or one of the student slave wage computer operators, their bosses, etc.

I was certainly “none of the above.”

I was probably the first “hitchhiker” on the Internet and that helped to give me the unique perspective that led to the creation of Project Gutenberg, Open Source, virtual communities, and a host of other things we all take for granted now.

Project Gutenberg was the first “site” on the Internet, the first place people went to download materials, general information, and so on. There may have been similar things at the companies that serviced the mainframes, but certainly not the general stuff the public could download or upload that we see today.

I certainly appeared to be the first to view computers as a huge communications network independent of their computing ability.

Book and Publication Surveys Can Help You Find the Best Books

March 22nd, 2022

I love to read. Newspapers, magazines, periodicals, books — I even gained 18 pounds one summer eating nothing but fortune cookies to get the delicious scraps of text inside. Suffice to say I take my literary input pretty seriously (and my nutritional input significantly less so). Even with my voracious appetite for literature, however, I can’t read everything. To decide what I should read, I often rely on book and publication surveys.

I started perusing book and publication surveys when I noticed a disturbing trend; I’d always been skeptical of the glowing reviews that adorn virtually every book’s dust jacket, but I began to see online reviews that seemed like little more than wholly biased marketing written on behalf of the author. With polls, however, I could get a more objective analysis of what a wide range of people thought about a given publication; information more valuable to me than one person’s review.

Even the most objective reviewer is but one person, who has her own taste and agendas. With book and publication surveys, I can seek those that ask the questions that I care about, to the people I most identify with. With the ever-growing canon of literature, being able to avoid wasting energy on reading I won’t find interesting is a great way to maximize my time. Books and publication surveys help me love reading even more by focusing my attention on what I’ll enjoy the most.

Whether you read every day or nearly never, finding the best material is important. Book and publication surveys can help you make sure you get the most out of every word. Your time is valuable: don’t waste it with something in which you’re not going to be interested.