As Mark posted yesterday, Project Gutenberg founder Michael S. Hart, who invented ebooks when he keyed in the text of the Declaration of Independence in 1971, has died. He was 64. He was a copyfighter and a hero of the Internet revolution. Michael honored me by including my books in the Gutenberg archive, and was a challenging and invigorating correspondent.
Michael S. Hart left a major mark on the world. The invention of eBooks was not simply a technological innovation or precursor to the modern information environment. A more correct understanding is that eBooks are an efficient and effective way of unlimited free distribution of literature. Access to eBooks can thus provide opportunity for increased literacy. Literacy, and the ideas contained in literature, creates opportunity.
In July 2011, Michael wrote these words, which summarize his goals and his lasting legacy: "One thing about eBooks that most people haven't thought much is that eBooks are the very first thing that we're all able to have as much as we want other than air. Think about that for a moment and you realize we are in the right job." He had this advice for those seeking to make literature available to all people, especially children:
"Learning is its own reward. Nothing I can
say is better than that."
Michael is remembered as a dear friend, who sacrificed personal luxury to fight for literacy, and for preservation of public domain rights and resources, towards the greater good.