Obituary for Michael Stern Hart
Michael Stern Hart was born in Tacoma, Washington on March 8, 1947. He
died on September 6, 2011 in his home in Urbana, Illinois, at the age
of 64. His is survived by his mother, Alice, and brother, Bennett.
Michael was an Eagle Scout (Urbana Troop 6 and Explorer Post 12), and
served in the Army in Korea during the Vietnam era.
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
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 ubiquity of portable
mobile devices, such as cell phones.
Hart also predicted the enhancement of automatic translation, which
would provide all of the world's literature in over a hundred
languages. While this goal has not yet been reached, by the time of
his death Project Gutenberg hosted eBooks in 60 different languages,
and was frequently highlighted as one of the best Internet-based
On 11 Jul 2005 10:52:29 [[Michael S. Hart]] wrote: ==
As far as I can tell, the entire open source movement, whether you are
tracing it back through programming to Stallman or though eBooks to me,
is based on the logic of creating the symmetrical power structure only
available through putting things on the Internet for all to download.
On the 'Creative Commons': A Critique of the Commons without Commonalty
>>> ------- Weitergeleitete Nachricht / Forwarded message -------
>>> Datum: Tue, 4 Oct 2005 10:48:06 +0200
>>> Betreff: [listex] Fwd: [lib-info-society] Fwd: Comment on Yahoo eBook Project
>>> wow. eine mail von michael. einer der definitiven grössen des www.
>>> "Michael Hart" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>>> To: "Union for the Public Domain" <email@example.com>
>>> Subject: [Upd-discuss] Comment on Yahoo eBook Project
>>> Date: Mon, 3 Oct 2005 10:58:46 -0700 (PDT)
>>> Yet another consortium of multi-billion dollar institutions
>>> has thrown its hat into the eBook/eLibrary ring today, just
>>> 9 months before the 35th Anniversary of Project Gutenberg's
>>> placement on the Internet of the first eLibrary element, on
>>> July 4th, 1971.
>>> Last December 14th Google used a multi-million dollar blitz
>>> of television, radio and print media to announce the Google
>>> Print revolution: "Today is the day the world changes," but
>>> so far it has been difficult to get even a handful of books
>>> from their project, some 10 months later.
>>> I am wondering of the news media will give the same kind of
>>> coverage to a second such announcement, which will also put
>>> up an alliance of an Internet search engine giant with some
>>> multi-billion dollar libraries. I will be watching all the
>>> news programs tonight in eager anticipation, as I was doing
>>> last December, but I fear that "once burned/twice cautious"
>>> might take some of the wind out of their sails/sales.
>>> However, this effort has one huge advantage: "The Internet
>>> Archive," run by my friend Brewster Kahle. Brewster is one
>>> person who has a proven ability to put an enormous resource
>>> on the Internet for the whole wide world to use.
>>> This different is such that I am willing to bet that Yahoo!
>>> gets off to a better start in the next 10 months than did a
>>> rather completely false start by Google.
>>> Of course, the real test will be to see how long it takes a
>>> project such as this to reach a million eBooks, since there
>>> are already well over 100,000 eBooks already available free
>>> for the taking on various Internet sites, perhaps 50,000 of
>>> them from the various Project Gutenberg sites.
>>> Here's a hope that a few years from now anyone can have the
>>> advantage of a million book home library, and in even a few
>>> years more to ten million books sitting on one inch of your
>>> own bookshelf next to your computer.
>>> Michael S. Hart
>>> Project Gutenberg
>>> Upd-discuss mailing list
>>> ------- Ende der weitergeleiteten Nachricht / End of forwarded message -------
>>> WISSEN2 (W2) - Wissen, Infos, Daten, ...
> May, C. (2006b). "Patents, universities and the provision of social
> goods in the information society." Ethical Perspectives, 13 (2). pp.
> 289-304. ISSN (Print) 1370-0049 (Online) 1783-1431.
> May, C. (2006c). "The denial of history: reification, intellectual
> property rights and the lessons of the past." Capital & Class, 88. pp.
> 33-56. ISSN 0309-8168.
> May, C. (2002). The Information Society: A Sceptical View. Cambridge:
> Polity Press.
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