What Is Project Gutenburg? A place to download free public domain books…
Although it might sound like it’s a crazy mission to relight the acting career of a B-list actor from the 80’s, Project Gutenburg is something far more interesting. The culmination of something that was started as far back as 1971, Project Gutenburg is the brainchild of Michael Hart, the inventor of the eBook.
Born from a determination by Hart to get more people reading as well as sharing as much information publicly as is humanly possible, Project Gutenburg aims to bring together the largest collection of eBooks on the Internet. With over 20,000 eBooks already in the Project Gutenburg library, and another 100,000 available via their partners, the project is already well on its way to achieving that aim. Best of all, it’s completely free.
A Little History Lesson
When Michael Hart found he had the equivalent of a whopping $100 million in computer time given to him for no other reason than “it was available” from his friends (who coincidentally worked at the University of Illinois, it was the launch pad of what would become Project Gutenburg.
Messing around with this time, Hart realized he’d never be able to spend this incredible amount – unless he got creative, that is. This creativity brought about what would be the precursor to today’s use of technology for sharing information. By converting normal documents and written words into computer or electronic text, Hart inadvertently created the world’s first eBook, and from there came the growth of file sharing as we know it today.
Project Gutenburg’s Goal
As it continued to grow from these small and arguably accidental beginnings, Project Gutenburg began to take shape. As technology has improved and more and more people have come to share Hart’s belief that information should be shared, Project Gutenburg has steadily grown into one of the world’s biggest portals for free information anywhere.
That the project uses eBooks to grow and share their common belief is no coincidence. Since eBooks can cover any subject and can be as short or as long as the writer of one likes, if a particular subject isn’t covered by the collection at Project Gutenburg that can be rectified almost immediately. The reason for this almost instantaneous turnaround – Project Gutenburg is run completely by volunteers.
It’s for this reason that the raison d’etre of Project Gutenburg is most noticeable. Hart doesn’t claim that the eBooks are 100% accurate – much like Wikipedia, it’s a portal for people to share information, and hopefully the facts are part of that sharing process. However, with the sole idea to “encourage all those who are interested in making eBooks and to give them away”, and no financial gains involved at all, there will be some discrepancies in what’s being written. The volunteers who transfer them to the site may pick up those errors, but so what if they don’t?
With Project Gutenburg making a stand along with places like Scribd.com in bringing free information and learning tools to the millions who may otherwise miss out, any small error should be discounted. Whether you simply go along to download a book, or make a donation for the volunteer workers, you really should make Project Gutenburg one of the next places you check out when you’re next online.