Archive for September, 2011

The Legacy of Michael S. Hart

September 16th, 2011

ship sinking into a whirlpool near the Lone Tower

Sometimes people are important to you not for who they are, but for what they do. Michael S. Hart, the founder of Project Gutenberg, is one such person. While I never met him, Michael’s work has definitely impacted my life: The last book I finished1, like most of my fiction reading over the past 3 years, was a public domain ebook. I love the illustrations.

KENBAK-1 from 1971

The first personal computer: KENBAK-1 (1971)

In 1971, the idea of pleasure reading on screens must have been novel. The personal computer had just been invented; a KENBAK-1 would set you back $750 — equivalent to $4200 in 2011 dollars2.

Xerox Sigma V-SDS mainframe

Xerox Sigma V-SDS mainframe

Project Gutenberg’s first text — the U.S. Declaration of Independence — was keyed into a mainframe, about one month after Unix was first released34. That mainframe, a Xerox Sigma V, was one of the first 15 computers on the Internet (well, technically, ARPANET)5. Project Gutenberg is an echo of the generosity of some UIUC sysadmins: The first digital library began a gift back to the world in appreciation of access to that computer.

Thanks, Michael.

Originally via @muttinmall

  1. The Book of Dragons, by Edith Nesbit: highly recommended, especially if you like silly explanations or fairy tales with morals. []
  2. CPI Inflation Calculator []
  3. Computer history timeline 1960-1980 []
  4. Project Gutenberg Digital Library Seeks To Spur Literacy:
    Library hopes to offer 1 million electronic books in 100 languages
    , 2007-07-20, Jeffrey Thomas []
  5. Amazingly, this predated NCSA. You can see the building–Thomas Siebel–hosting the node thanks to a UIUC Communication Technology and Society class assignment []

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Posted in books and reading, future of publishing, information ecosystem, library and information science | Comments (0)

They really know how to throw a party in Chicago…

September 14th, 2011

This is my kind of performance art, from this year’s Printer’s Ball. Got pictures, anybody?

Busted Books: The Great Soaking. Performance by Davis Schneiderman. Attendees are invited to use a artisan-constructed dunk tank to soak either a book or a Kindle—depending upon the dunker’s feelings regarding the printed word and e-readers. With this simple choice, this physical act, readers can finally stop theorizing about the future of the book and do something about it.

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Posted in books and reading, future of publishing, random thoughts | Comments (0)

Reading Group talk: Using Controlled Natural Language and First Order Logic to improve e-consultation discussion forums

September 7th, 2011

Today the DERI Reading Group starts up again for the fall. I’m talking about three papers from the IMPACT project.

For now this is just to provide my colleagues with links; check back later for slides, etc.Scroll down for slides and video.

  1. Adam Wyner and Tom van Engers. A Framework for Enriched, Controlled On-line Discussion Forums for e-Government Policy-making. EGOVIS 2010. AcaWiki Summary
  2. Adam Wyner, Tom van Enger, and Kiavash Bahreini. From Policy-making Statements to First-order Logic. Electronic Government and Electronic Participation 2010. AcaWiki Summary
  3. Adam Wyner and Tom van Enger. Towards Web-based Mass Argumentation in Natural Language. (long version of this EKAW 2010 poster). AcaWiki Summary

Reading Group talk: Using Controlled Natural Language and First Order Logic to improve e-consultation discussion forums from Jodi Schneider on Vimeo.

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Posted in argumentative discussions, PhD diary, social semantic web | Comments (1)