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- Date: Sat, 2 Nov 1996 14:07:33 -0800
- From: "Michael S. Hart" <hart _at__ prairienet.org>
- Subject: Project Gutenberg NEEDS YOUR HELP!
DELETE THIS NOW....if you do not wish to help keep Project
Gutenberg on the Internet....my apologies for intruding on
your mailbox....especially for those who hate this sort of
thing and are receiving more than one copy.
Project Gutenberg NEEDS YOUR HELP MORE THAN EVER!
I have never been good at asking for help, but we need the
help more than ever before as you will see if you read on.
We need to get incorporated. [Therefore we need lawyers.]
25 years ago Project Gutenberg started putting information
on the Internet, years earlier than any other providers of
general information, at a time when the only people on the
Internet/ARPANet were paid professionals.
[Today their continued presence on the Net is threatened.]
At that time only the geekiest of the geeks understood any
of the messages posted in the Net, and Project Gutenberg's
unpaid volunteers, the first Plain Vanilla Netizens, would
change the face of the Internet forever with postings that
everyone could read and understand, for decades to come.
[And we would very much hope to continue, with your help.]
Next week Project Gutenberg plans to release #700 in their
series, and at the moment of this writing #696 has already
made its way around the world; by the time you are reading
this, it is likely that #700 will already be posted, as we
are a few days ahead of schedule.
[And in only four more months we hope to be posting #1000]
While Project Gutenberg has managed to roll out book after
book on schedule. . .official release date is midnight the
last day of each month. . .on time and "under budget". . .
[From our earliest files that were limited to about 5K, to
some of our most recent files that are 45M of text, nearly
10,000 times as large as our original files.]
BUT. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . !
the fact is that this is not likely to be able to continue
without your support because the support we used to get is
changing for the worse as the old information pathways our
work created have become paved, re-paved, and finally they
have become marked with those signs that say NO PEDESTRIAN
TRAFFIC, NO MOTOR DRIVEN CYCLES, NO FARM IMPLEMENTS and no
anything else other than high-cost, high-maintenance, cost
ineffective behemoths in full motion video, stereophonics,
and point and click interfaces.
Let's face it. . .books on computers do not require higher
technology than was available fifteen years ago. . .unless
you are searching large books. . .but for just reading and
writing books, the oldest, slowest PC is just fine.
This kind of traffic is the most efficient for information
transmission, far more efficient than movies or markup, in
that it not only reaches a wider audience but that it also
takes much less storage and bandwidth.
While Project Gutenberg has been a leader in developing an
Internet philosophy that benefits all the fact is that the
"bells and whistles" of the cutest new Internet things are
getting all the money and attention, but they are not very
effective in creating a new generation of people who would
be considered free of ignorance and illiteracy. We need a
bit of that money and attention, and we think of no better
possible investment than in placing the great books of the
civilizations of the world into the hands of everyone, for
the rest of history. PLEASE HELP US HELP THE WORLD!
However, all the new "bells and whistles" and repaving the
Information Superhighway in ways that eliminate all but an
entirely "new order" of information providers: commercial
in nature, or, perhaps even worse, non-commercial sites in
direct imitation of the commercial sites.
The new proposals for Internet traffic are supposed to put
books and other text on the sidings, while express trains,
full of Hollywood imagery, flash by while the script words
just lie there and wait.
I am afraid the situation is much worse that I am willing,
it takes more courage than _I_ have, to describe in detail
that I have had to live with every day for half a year.
Here is part of it:
1. As many of you have heard, the University of Illinois,
where Project Gutenberg was founded in 1971, has decided a
continued support of Project Gutenberg is not in line with
a new stiff political policy, to keep out all unauthorized
users, and as part of this policy to eliminate that access
Project Gutenberg has had, authorized but unofficial.
Just part of the new paving process. . .sorry. . .but your
access has become just another roadkill in our efforts for
the creation of a mirror-surfaced Information Superhighway
whose mirror will now only reflect authorized information.
2. What you have not heard is that due to tough financial
situations, that Illinois Benedictine College, [now called
Benedictine University] which is our "official sponsor" is
no longer able to provide even the minimal financial which
kept us going through the period when Project Gutenberg in
essence became a full-time job.
3. In addition, our third major means of support, a CDROM
made by Walnut Creek, has had several problems, including,
but not limited to, change of high-level personnel, CDROMs
reportedly selling less this year for the first time, with
accounting problems on top of that.
1-2-3. . .just like that, all three of our major supports,
cut drastically, for most of the past year. . .and we have
still kept producing Project Gutenberg Etexts on schedule.
0. The fourth leg of support for Project Gutenberg is, as
always, you, the people.
When I started Project Gutenberg, I obeyed that law "Never
Quit Your Day Job for Shareware". . .a law that was not in
existence at that time. . .but as time passed, doubling in
output every year took more and more of my time, I was not
able to continue to work as a consultant AND Gutenberg all
at the same time, and Project Gutenberg was too important,
is too important, to let go of. It is VERY hard to stop--
when I think of the fact that if I can just hold on 1 more
year. . .we can multiply our total productivity by 2.
However, the truth is, that even without my going out from
task of actually getting the books on line to go shmoozing
to get support from corporate sources, even with a request
to you for donations in every book we post, the truth is--
that most of our donations have come from corporations.
A wonderful thing. . .when you think about it. . .but none
the less, not something we can depend on for the future as
we never know when these are going to happen.
If anyone reading this is the sort of person who is happy,
even just satisfied, working with grants, requests, etc, I
would welcome your help extremely gratefully, as I am not,
at least never have been, the kind of person who will stop
working on something to get support for that work.
I feel that if the work is really worthwhile and _I_ think
Project Gutenberg is the MOST WORTHWHILE activity I can do
. . .then the work itself will create the needed support--
if not, perhaps I am suffering under delusions.
However, even at that, recent events have conspired to set
my mind on getting Project Gutenberg incorporated, and you
are invited to help as much as you can. These events have
shown that it is possible for three independent structures
of seemingly permanent support to all fail simultaneously.
I would very much like to see Project Gutenberg survive to
continue after I am gone, but I realize now that it is not
likely that I will be able to find someone to take over in
the same function I have had, which I define as merely the
hub of the wheel, so I have to consider institutionalizing
something that has always been just the raggedy collection
of interested parties, something that could not be without
the Internet, and perhaps something that should never have
been able to come into existence at any other time than it
did. . .especially if they continue running over us with a
continually New and Improved Superhighway Steamroller.
So. . .after all that. . .what do we need:
1. We need to get incorporated, hopefully non-profit.
This will finally allow us control over our own finances--
right now the Benedictine University is in its first years
under a new accounting system which has no way to take any
account of something like Project Gutenberg, even though a
very expensive review of the University began with a first
line of: "Project Gutenberg is the only thing you can NOT
afford to lose."
Such are the perils of large organizations.
We need to be able to pay our bills in ways that are not a
maze of paperwork so intense that I mostly decide to pay a
bill myself rather than do the paperwork. If Gutenberg is
a survivor, I will be repaid. . .if not. . .then it cannot
2. We need to gain some kind of financial base.
For most of the 25 years of Project Gutenberg I have paid,
usually not terribly large amounts, for all the expenses--
though in 1989 things really took off and not only did the
expenses go up but I also started spending so much time on
the project that I didn't have much time for much else.
However, two things happened then that allowed me to set a
pathway that proved fairly secure. One was that my father
died, and left me just enough money to either pay off that
nasty mortgage on my house, or to invest enough in Project
Gutenberg to keep it running for the foreseeable future.
The other thing was that Illinois Benedictine College, now
Benedictine University, took a great interest in person of
their new Vice President, Bob Preston. However, he is now
President of a different college.
Therefore, if you have any abilities at all in the dealing
with large corporations and foundations we would certainly
appreciate your help, or even if you just want to learn to
do such things. I, myself, am merely the kind of person a
world would think of as a workaholic with an idea that may
be able to change the world for the better, I am not in an
even remotely true sense any kind of salesman or shmoozer.
I just like doing the work and seeing it do more work.
We have seen a BILLION dollars earmarked for an Electronic
Library. . .from all the major foundations. . .yet when it
comes to talking to them about it. . ._I_ find myself in a
drowning in barnyard material when I approach them. Help!
Anything possible to keep us alive and functioning.
I had planned to leave my house to Project Gutenberg, as I
have just barely managed to finish paying it off, but I am
perhaps forced to consider once again doing the mortgage--
though when I realize how much I could have saved it I had
paid it off back in 1989. . .
If you have any ideas, suggestions, places to try, we hope
you will contact anyone you know on our behalf, you are as
much part of Project Gutenberg as anyone. . . !
I have considered just publishing a list of foundations we
think should be interested in Project Gutenberg and having
you write letters directly to them, in addition to whoever
might do any independent contacting.
While it doesn't take much money to keep Project Gutenberg
running, probably only $2,000 per month, you might be very
surprised that the over 5,000 newsletter subscribers might
send in an average of only one cent per month each. These
contributions are gratefully accepted, and all are send an
email or snailmail thank you, but they only add up to less
than $50 per month. The Benedictines used to pay for half
of our expenses, but they can't afford it any longer. The
several dozen commercial providers who sell access to text
files we create, either online or via disks, don't send us
a cent, other than the Walnut Creek CDROM company, but the
situation there is not something we can rely on to keep us
going on more than a day to day basis, as sales are down.
While it is not quite time to PANIC!. . .it is getting all
too close. . .and I certainly would not expect a volunteer
army to pop out of the woodwork on a moment's notice, so I
am sending this out a month or two before my prediction of
when it will be time to panic.
I am pretty sure I can last until the holidays, but I will
certainly ask you all to put us on your holiday gift list.
In addition to all of the above, we also plan to keep up a
policy of doubling our production every year, and thus for
two books per day during 1997. As long as we survive, the
work should continue to get done on schedule, providing we
double the number of Project Gutenberg Volunteers, too.
It is amazing when I look back on it, but a year ago, from
right now, we were just posting Etext #350. . . .
Oct 1995 Of Human Bondage, by W. Somerset Maugham [humbnxxx.xxx] 351
Oct 1995 Fanny Herself, by Edna Ferber [Author of "Giant"] [fnherxxx.xxx] 350
Oct 1995 The Harvester, by Gene Stratton Porter [Porter #4][tharvxxx.xxx] 349
Oct 1995 Collection of Hesiod, Homer and Homerica [homerxxx.xxx] 348
Oct 1995 Grettir the Strong, Icelandic Saga, Author Unknown[grttrxxx.xxx] 347
Oct 1995 The Troll Garden, et al, by Willa Cather [#5] [trollxxx.xxx] 346
Oct 1995 Dracula, by Bram Stoker [Halloween Request #5] [dracuxxx.xxx] 345
Oct 1995 Merry Men, by Robert Louis Stevenson [RLS #8] [mrmenxxx.xxx] 344
and now we are posting #700. . . .
If it weren't for the facts that we are in so very serious
trouble in our support structure, we should celebrate in a
great fashion that we have once again managed not only the
survival of another year but the creation and distribution
of as many Etexts in the past year as we managed to get on
line in the 24 years before that.
Hopefully next year we will get to celebrate Etext #1,000,
in a slightly less reserved tone.
For now, you can help us in several ways:
1. Get financial donations sent to "Project Gutenberg/BU"
at POBox 2782, Champaign, IL, 61825-2782.
2. Volunteer to help create new Etexts by subscribing for
this as follows:
email to listproc _at__ prairienet.org
[no subject required, the only content needs to be]
subscribe gutnberg [firstname lastname]
subscribe gutvol-l [firstname lastname]
If you don't want to volunteer, just subscribe to gutnberg
and don't subscribe to gutvol-l.
Please also send a copy [cc:] to hart _at__ pobox.com, and I can
make sure your subscriptions go through.
If you want make sure you are also on our old listservers,
you can also send the above email to:
listserv _at__ postoffice.cso.uiuc.edu
Once again I thank all of the 700 volunteers who have been
responsible for the creation of the 350 new Etext sent out
to the world last year, and I will hopefully be thanking a
group of 700 more volunteers over the next year, as it may
still take us an average of two volunteers to create every
book we manage to complete. We would also love to do more
books in other languages!!!
Wishing you all the best,
Michael S. Hart
Michael S. Hart, Professor of Electronic Text
Executive Director of Project Gutenberg Etext
Benedictine University, Lisle, IL 60532-0900
No official connection to U of Illinois--UIUC
Permanent Internet Address!!! hart _at__ pobox.com
Internet User Number 100 [approximately] [TM]
One of the several "Ask Dr Internet" Sponsors
Break Down the Bars of Ignorance & Illiteracy
On the Carnegie Libraries' 100th Anniversary!
If I don't answer in two days, please resend.
It usually means I did not get/see your note.
General queries to: dircompg _at__ ux1.cso.uiuc.edu
[Project Gutenberg Director of Communication]
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