Project Gutenberg

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Project Gutenberg
Project Gutemberg logo.svg
EstablishedDecember 1, 1971;47 years ago (1971-12-01)
(first document posted) [1]
Collection
SizeOver 57,000 documents
Website Project Gutenberg Home Page
Gutenberg Mobile Site

Project Gutenberg (PG) is a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works, to "encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks". [2] It was founded in 1971 by American writer Michael S. Hart and is the oldest digital library. [3] Most of the items in its collection are the full texts of public domain books. The project tries to make these as free as possible, in long-lasting, open formats that can be used on almost any computer. As of 23 June 2018, Project Gutenberg reached 57,000 items in its collection of free eBooks. [4]

Virtual volunteering refers to volunteer activities completed, in whole or in part, using the Internet and a home, school, telecenter, or work computer or other Internet-connected device, such as a smart-phone or personal digital assistant (PDA). Virtual volunteering is also known as online volunteering, remote volunteering or e-volunteering.

Michael S. Hart American author, founder of Project Gutenberg

Michael Stern Hart was an American author, best known as the inventor of the e-book and the founder of Project Gutenberg (PG), the first project to make e-books freely available via the Internet. He published e-books years before the Internet existed via the ARPANET, and later on BBS networks and Gopher servers.

A digital library, digital repository, or digital collection, is an online database of digital objects that can include text, still images, audio, video, or other digital media formats. Objects can consist of digitized content like print or photographs, as well as originally produced digital content like word processor files or social media posts. In addition to storing content, digital libraries provide means for organizing, searching, and retrieving the content contained in the collection.

Contents

The releases are available in plain text but, wherever possible, other formats are included, such as HTML, PDF, EPUB, MOBI, and Plucker. Most releases are in the English language, but many non-English works are also available. There are multiple affiliated projects that are providing additional content, including regional and language-specific works. Project Gutenberg is also closely affiliated with Distributed Proofreaders, an Internet-based community for proofreading scanned texts.

A text file is a kind of computer file that is structured as a sequence of lines of electronic text. A text file exists stored as data within a computer file system. In operating systems such as CP/M and MS-DOS, where the operating system does not keep track of the file size in bytes, the end of a text file is denoted by placing one or more special characters, known as an end-of-file marker, as padding after the last line in a text file. On modern operating systems such as Microsoft Windows and Unix-like systems, text files do not contain any special EOF character, because file systems on those operating systems keep track of the file size in bytes. There are for most text files a need to have end-of-line delimiters, which are done in a few different ways depending on operating system. Some operating systems with record-orientated file systems may not use new line delimiters and will primarily store text files with lines separated as fixed or variable length records.

HTML Hypertext Markup Language

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is the standard markup language for creating web pages and web applications. With Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and JavaScript, it forms a triad of cornerstone technologies for the World Wide Web.

The Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file format developed by Adobe in the 1990s to present documents, including text formatting and images, in a manner independent of application software, hardware, and operating systems. Based on the PostScript language, each PDF file encapsulates a complete description of a fixed-layout flat document, including the text, fonts, vector graphics, raster images and other information needed to display it. PDF was standardized as an open format, ISO 32000, in 2008, and no longer requires any royalties for its implementation.

History

Michael Hart (left) and Gregory Newby (right) of Project Gutenberg, 2006 Michael Hart and Gregory Newby at HOPE Conference.jpg
Michael Hart (left) and Gregory Newby (right) of Project Gutenberg, 2006

Project Gutenberg was started by Michael Hart in 1971 with the digitization of the United States Declaration of Independence. [5] Hart, a student at the University of Illinois, obtained access to a Xerox Sigma V mainframe computer in the university's Materials Research Lab. Through friendly operators, he received an account with a virtually unlimited amount of computer time; its value at that time has since been variously estimated at $100,000 or $100,000,000. [6] Hart has said he wanted to "give back" this gift by doing something that could be considered to be of great value. His initial goal was to make the 10,000 most consulted books available to the public at little or no charge, and to do so by the end of the 20th century. [7]

United States Declaration of Independence announcement by which the American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain and thus founded the United States

The United States Declaration of Independence is the statement adopted by the Second Continental Congress meeting at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 4, 1776. The Declaration announced that the Thirteen Colonies at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain would regard themselves as thirteen independent sovereign states, no longer under British rule. With the Declaration, these new states took a collective first step toward forming the United States of America. The declaration was signed by representatives from New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign public research university in Urbana and Champaign, Illinois, United States

The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign is a public research university in Illinois and the flagship institution of the University of Illinois System. Founded in 1867 as a land-grant institution, its campus is located in the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana.

SDS Sigma series series of computers introduced by Scientific Data Systems in 1966

The SDS Sigma series is a series of third generation computers that were introduced by Scientific Data Systems in 1966. The first machines in the series are the 16-bit Sigma 2 and the 32-bit Sigma 7; the Sigma 7 was the first 32-bit computer released by SDS. At the time the only competition for the Sigma 7 was the IBM 360.

This particular computer was one of the 15 nodes on ARPANET, the computer network that would become the Internet. Hart believed that computers would one day be accessible to the general public and decided to make works of literature available in electronic form for free. He used a copy of the United States Declaration of Independence in his backpack, and this became the first Project Gutenberg e-text. He named the project after Johannes Gutenberg, the fifteenth century German printer who propelled the movable type printing press revolution.

In telecommunications networks, a node is either a redistribution point or a communication endpoint. The definition of a node depends on the network and protocol layer referred to. A physical network node is an active electronic device that is attached to a network, and is capable of creating, receiving, or transmitting information over a communications channel. A passive distribution point such as a distribution frame or patch panel is consequently not a node.

ARPANET Early packet switching network that was the first to implement the protocol suite TCP/IP

The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) was an early packet-switching network and the first network to implement the TCP/IP protocol suite. Both technologies became the technical foundation of the Internet. The ARPANET was initially founded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) of the United States Department of Defense.

Internet Global system of connected computer networks

The Internet is the global system of interconnected computer networks that use the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to link devices worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries a vast range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents and applications of the World Wide Web (WWW), electronic mail, telephony, and file sharing. Some publications no longer capitalize "internet".

By the mid-1990s, Hart was running Project Gutenberg from Illinois Benedictine College. More volunteers had joined the effort. All of the text was entered manually until 1989 when image scanners and optical character recognition software improved and became more widely available, which made book scanning more feasible. [8] Hart later came to an arrangement with Carnegie Mellon University, which agreed to administer Project Gutenberg's finances. As the volume of e-texts increased, volunteers began to take over the project's day-to-day operations that Hart had run.

Benedictine University private Roman Catholic university located in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

Benedictine University is a private Roman Catholic university in Lisle, Illinois. The school was founded in 1887 as St. Procopius College by the Benedictine monks of St. Procopius Abbey in the Pilsen community on the West Side of Chicago. The institution has retained a close relationship with the Benedictine Order, which bears the name of St. Benedict, the acknowledged father of western monasticism.

Image scanner device that optically scans images, printed text, handwriting, or an object, and converts it to a digital image

An image scanner—often abbreviated to just scanner, although the term is ambiguous out of context —is a device that optically scans images, printed text, handwriting or an object and converts it to a digital image. Commonly used in offices are variations of the desktop flatbed scanner where the document is placed on a glass window for scanning. Hand-held scanners, where the device is moved by hand, have evolved from text scanning "wands" to 3D scanners used for industrial design, reverse engineering, test and measurement, orthotics, gaming and other applications. Mechanically driven scanners that move the document are typically used for large-format documents, where a flatbed design would be impractical.

Optical character recognition Computer recognition of visual text

Optical character recognition or optical character reader, often abbreviated as OCR, is the mechanical or electronic conversion of images of typed, handwritten or printed text into machine-encoded text, whether from a scanned document, a photo of a document, a scene-photo or from subtitle text superimposed on an image.

Starting in 2004, an improved online catalog made Project Gutenberg content easier to browse, access and hyperlink. Project Gutenberg is now hosted by ibiblio at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Hyperlink computing term; reference to data that the reader can directly follow either by clicking, tapping, or hovering

In computing, a hyperlink, or simply a link, is a reference to data that the reader can directly follow either by clicking or tapping. A hyperlink points to a whole document or to a specific element within a document. Hypertext is text with hyperlinks. The text that is linked from is called anchor text. A software system that is used for viewing and creating hypertext is a hypertext system, and to create a hyperlink is to hyperlink. A user following hyperlinks is said to navigate or browse the hypertext.

ibiblio digital library and archive project

ibiblio is a "collection of collections," and hosts a diverse range of publicly available information and open source content, including software, music, literature, art, history, science, politics, and cultural studies. As an "Internet librarianship," ibiblio is a digital library and archive project. It is run by the School of Information and Library Science and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with partners including the Center for the Public Domain, IBM, and SourceForge. It also offers streaming audio radio stations. In November 1994 it started the first internet radio stream by rebroadcasting WXYC, the UNC student-run radio station. It also takes credit for the first non-commercial IPv6 / Internet2 radio stream. Unless otherwise specified, all material on ibiblio is assumed to be in the public domain.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill public research university in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), also known as UNC-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, or simply Carolina is a public research university in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It is the flagship of the 17 campuses of the University of North Carolina system. After being chartered in 1789, the university first began enrolling students in 1795, which also allows it to be one of three schools to claim the title of the oldest public university in the United States. Among the claimants, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the only one to have held classes and graduated students as a public university in the eighteenth century.

Italian volunteer Pietro Di Miceli developed and administered the first Project Gutenberg website and started the development of the Project online Catalog. In his ten years in this role (1994–2004), the Project web pages won a number of awards, often being featured in "best of the Web" listings, and contributing to the project's popularity. [9]

Hart died on 6 September 2011 at his home in Urbana, Illinois at the age of 64. [10]

Affiliated organizations

In 2000, a non-profit corporation, the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, Inc. was chartered in Mississippi, United States to handle the project's legal needs. Donations to it are tax-deductible. Long-time Project Gutenberg volunteer Gregory Newby became the foundation's first CEO. [11]

Also in 2000, Charles Franks founded Distributed Proofreaders (DP), which allowed the proofreading of scanned texts to be distributed among many volunteers over the Internet. This effort greatly increased the number and variety of texts being added to Project Gutenberg, as well as making it easier for new volunteers to start contributing. DP became officially affiliated with Project Gutenberg in 2002. [12] As of 2018, the 36,000+ DP-contributed books comprised almost two-thirds of the nearly 57,000 books in Project Gutenberg.

CD and DVD project

In August 2003, Project Gutenberg created a CD containing approximately 600 of the "best" e-books from the collection. The CD is available for download as an ISO image. When users are unable to download the CD, they can request to have a copy sent to them, free of charge.

In December 2003, a DVD was created containing nearly 10,000 items. At the time, this represented almost the entire collection. In early 2004, the DVD also became available by mail.

In July 2007, a new edition of the DVD was released containing over 17,000 books, and in April 2010, a dual-layer DVD was released, containing nearly 30,000 items.

The majority of the DVDs, and all of the CDs mailed by the project, were recorded on recordable media by volunteers. However, the new dual layer DVDs were manufactured, as it proved more economical than having volunteers burn them. As of October 2010, the project has mailed approximately 40,000 discs. As of 2017, the delivery of free CDs has been discontinued, though the ISO image is still available for download. [13]

Scope of collection

Growth of Project Gutenberg publications from 1994 until 2015 Project Gutenberg total books.svg
Growth of Project Gutenberg publications from 1994 until 2015

As of August 2015, Project Gutenberg claimed over 57,000 items in its collection, with an average of over 50 new e-books being added each week. [14] These are primarily works of literature from the Western cultural tradition. In addition to literature such as novels, poetry, short stories and drama, Project Gutenberg also has cookbooks, reference works and issues of periodicals. [15] The Project Gutenberg collection also has a few non-text items such as audio files and music-notation files. [16]

Most releases are in English, but there are also significant numbers in many other languages. As of April 2016, the non-English languages most represented are: French, German, Finnish, Dutch, Italian, and Portuguese. [3]

Whenever possible, Gutenberg releases are available in plain text, mainly using US-ASCII character encoding but frequently extended to ISO-8859-1 (needed to represent accented characters in French and Scharfes s in German, for example). Besides being copyright-free, the requirement for a Latin (character set) text version of the release has been a criterion of Michael Hart's since the founding of Project Gutenberg, as he believes this is the format most likely to be readable in the extended future. [17] Out of necessity, this criterion has had to be extended further for the sizable collection of texts in East Asian languages such as Chinese and Japanese now in the collection, where UTF-8 is used instead.

Other formats may be released as well when submitted by volunteers. The most common non-ASCII format is HTML, which allows markup and illustrations to be included. Some project members and users have requested more advanced formats, believing them to be much easier to read. But some formats that are not easily editable, such as PDF, are generally not considered to fit in with the goals of Project Gutenberg. Also Project Gutenberg has two options for master formats that can be submitted (from which all other files are generated): customized versions of the Text Encoding Initiative standard (since 2005) [18] and reStructuredText (since 2011). [19]

Beginning in 2009, the Project Gutenberg catalog began offering auto-generated alternate file formats, including HTML (when not already provided), EPUB and plucker. [20]

Ideals

Michael Hart said in 2004, "The mission of Project Gutenberg is simple: 'To encourage the creation and distribution of ebooks'". [2] His goal was, "to provide as many e-books in as many formats as possible for the entire world to read in as many languages as possible". [3] Likewise, a project slogan is to "break down the bars of ignorance and illiteracy", [21] because its volunteers aim to continue spreading public literacy and appreciation for the literary heritage just as public libraries began to do in the late 19th century. [22] [23]

Project Gutenberg is intentionally decentralized. For example, there is no selection policy dictating what texts to add. Instead, individual volunteers work on what they are interested in, or have available. The Project Gutenberg collection is intended to preserve items for the long term, so they cannot be lost by any one localized accident. In an effort to ensure this, the entire collection is backed-up regularly and mirrored on servers in many different locations. [24]

Project Gutenberg is careful to verify the status of its ebooks according to United States copyright law. Material is added to the Project Gutenberg archive only after it has received a copyright clearance, and records of these clearances are saved for future reference. Project Gutenberg does not claim new copyright on titles it publishes. Instead, it encourages their free reproduction and distribution. [3]

Most books in the Project Gutenberg collection are distributed as public domain under United States copyright law. There are also a few copyrighted texts, like of science fiction author Cory Doctorow, that Project Gutenberg distributes with permission. These are subject to further restrictions as specified by the copyright holder, although they generally tend to be licensed under Creative Commons.

"Project Gutenberg" is a trademark of the organization, and the mark cannot be used in commercial or modified redistributions of public domain texts from the project. There is no legal impediment to the reselling of works in the public domain if all references to Project Gutenberg are removed, but Gutenberg contributors have questioned the appropriateness of directly and commercially reusing content that has been formatted by volunteers. [25] There have been instances of books being stripped of attribution to the project and sold for profit in the Kindle Store and other booksellers, one being the 1906 book Fox Trapping. [25]

With the U.S. annual copyright term set to expire in 2019, items published in 1923 will be added to the public domain effective January 1, 2019.

As of 28 February 2018, Project Gutenberg is no longer accessible within Germany to comply with a court order from S. Fischer Verlag regarding the works of Heinrich Mann, Thomas Mann and Alfred Döblin. Although they were public domain in the United States, the court recognized the infringement of copyrights still active in Germany, and asserted that the Project Gutenberg website was under German jurisdiction because it hosts content in the German language. [26]

Criticism

The text files use the format of plain text encoded in UTF-8 and wrapped at 65–70 characters, with paragraphs separated by a double line break. In recent decades, the resulting relatively bland appearance and the lack of a markup possibility have often been perceived as a drawback of this format. [27] [ dubious ] Project Gutenberg attempts to address this by making many texts available in HTML, ePub, and PDF versions as well, but faithful to the mission of offering data that is easy to handle with computer code, plain ASCII text remains the most important format, and the ePub version still contains extra line breaks between paragraphs.

In December 1994, Project Gutenberg was criticized by the Text Encoding Initiative for failing to include apparatus (documentation) of the decisions unavoidable in preparing a text, or in some cases, documenting which of several (conflicting) versions of a text has been the one digitized. [28]

The selection of works (and editions) available has been determined by popularity, ease of scanning, being out of copyright, and other factors; this would be difficult to avoid in any crowd-sourced project. [29]

In March 2004, a new initiative was begun by Michael Hart and John S. Guagliardo [30] to provide low-cost intellectual properties. The initial name for this project was Project Gutenberg 2 (PG II), which created controversy among PG volunteers because of the re-use of the project's trademarked name for a commercial venture. [11]

Affiliated projects

All affiliated projects are independent organizations that share the same ideals and have been given permission to use the Project Gutenberg trademark. They often have a particular national or linguistic focus. [31]

List of affiliated projects

See also

Related Research Articles

Distributed Proofreaders web-based proofreading project

Distributed Proofreaders is a web-based project that supports the development of e-texts for Project Gutenberg by allowing many people to work together in proofreading drafts of e-texts for errors. By July 2015, over 30,000 texts had been digitized.

Mutopia Project volunteer-run library of free content sheet music

The Mutopia Project is a volunteer-run effort to create a library of free content sheet music, in a way similar to Project Gutenberg's library of public domain books. It started in 2000.

In some communities, "e-text" is used much more narrowly, to refer to electronic documents that are, so plain text file, but that it has no information beyond "the text itself"—no repboldparagraph, page, chapter, or footnote boundaries, etc. Michael S. Hart, for example, argued that this "is the only text mode that is easy on both the eyes and the computer". Hart made the correct point that proprietary word-processor formats made texts grossly inaccessible, but that is irrelevant to standard, open data formats. The narrow sense of "e-text" is now uncommon, because the notion of "just vanilla ASCII" has turned out to have serious difficulties:

Internet Archive US non-profit organization founded in 1996 in San Francisco by Brewster Kahle

The Internet Archive is a San Francisco–based nonprofit digital library with the stated mission of "universal access to all knowledge." It provides free public access to collections of digitized materials, including websites, software applications/games, music, movies/videos, moving images, and millions of public-domain books. In addition to its archiving function, the Archive is an activist organization, advocating for a free and open Internet.

Electronic publishing includes the digital publication of e-books, digital magazines, and the development of digital libraries and catalogues. It also includes an editorial aspect, that consists of editing books, journals or magazines that are mostly destined to be read on a screen.

World English Bible Bible translation

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An online encyclopedia, also called a digital encyclopedia is an encyclopedia accessible through the internet, such as Wikipedia. The idea to build a free encyclopedia using the Internet can be traced at least to the 1994 Interpedia proposal; it was planned as an encyclopedia on the Internet to which everyone could contribute materials. The project never left the planning stage and was overtaken by a key branch of old printed encyclopedias.

Project Rastko

Project Rastko — Internet Library of Serb Culture is a non-profit and non-governmental publishing, cultural and educational project dedicated to Serb and Serb-related arts and humanities. It is named after Rastko Nemanjić.

Wikibooks free resource library of books hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation and edited by volunteers

Wikibooks is a wiki-based Wikimedia project hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation for the creation of free content e-book textbooks and annotated texts that anyone can edit.

Wikisource Wikimedia project, an online digital library of free content textual sources on a wiki

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<i>A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature</i> collection of biographies of writers by John William Cousin

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LibriVox Audiobook library

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Project Gutenberg Canada, also known as Project Gutenburg of Canada, is a Canadian digital library founded July 1, 2007. Their website allows Canadian residents to create e-texts and download books that are otherwise not in the public domain in other countries.

Distributed Proofreaders Canada is a volunteer organization that converts books into digital format and releases them as public domain books in formats readable by electronic devices. It was launched in December 2007 and as of 2018 has published about 4,200 books. Books that are released are stored on a book archive called Faded Page. While its focus is on Canadian publications and preserving Canadiana, it also includes books from other countries as well. It is modelled after Distributed Proofreaders, and performs the same function as similar projects in other parts of the world such as Project Gutenberg in the United States and Project Gutenberg Australia.

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References

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  30. Executive director of the World eBook Library.
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