Monday, December 07, 2009

Hart to Hart on eBooks

Michael Hart is a man with both a mission and a proven ability to digitise literature. He is of course better know as the man behind, or in front of Project Guttenberg. In his latest article ‘Some Things I Like the Best and the Least About eBooks’ he not only states his values but much of those behind his project.

His likes about digital books is being able to use them as digital files, correcting errors, searching and retrieving text and being able to give them away free to others with little effort. It makes him sound like a pirate but we should remember he isn’t. He certainly believes in sharing but only those books which are free to share. He believes that the mobile world we are rapidly converging to offers much to those that share his views.

His dislikes may appear different to that expected. His most telling statement is that he provides content and cares little about the world of formats and form. He argues that the content is what matters not the format and that 99% is content and should not be dictated to by the 1%. We think it is an interesting point when one thinks about the format and DRM contraints of today.

Let’s face it, but when even the plainest of plain text eBooks is created, 99% of the work of re-creating it into another format is already done, all YOU have to do is change 1% and you can have it any other way you want it. On top of this, there are many format conversion programs out there that will do most of this for you.

We have to obviously put it into the perspective of Project Guttenberg and the fantastic often unsung work they have undertaken and achieved. They don’t have the deep pockets of the likes of Google but neither do they have the commercial and corporate vales. It’s interesting that at a time when Google vies to capture all in its settlement net for chump change and news and governments express fears of piracy, that Michael can bring such simple and focused values to the table and probably still get ignored by many.

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