Blog post by Tevin and Carl



HPIM0179 HPIM0187-300x226 Michael-S.-Hart-picture-1-540x405

Micheal s. hart

Michael s. hart was born on March 8, 1947 in Tacoma. He die in his home of Urbana Illinois on September 6, 2011 at the age of 64. Michael Hart was best known for his invention of electronic books also known as EBook, but he was also an American author. His father was an accountant and his mother, a former cryptanalyst during World War II. In 1958 his family relocated to Urbana, Illinois, and his father and mother became college professors in Shakespearean studies and mathematics education. Michael Hart graduating from the University of Illinois in just two years with a degree in Human-Machine Interfaces. He also enrolled in graduate school, but did not complete for unknown reasons and he was for a brief time a street musician. Hart was a man that did not need a lot of money, he got by with the money he earned as an adjunct and with grants and donations to Project Gutenberg. He financed himself with odd jobs and used an unpaid appointment at Illinois Benedictine College to solicit donations for the project. Although he did not have an stable job, he did fine without it because his obsession of building computers, stereos, and using home remedies. He once said “It’s hard for me to spend $10 on dinner; the average is well under $5. I have no cable [TV] or cell phone. I ride a bicycle most of the time. I also wear garage sale clothes; in fact I live just about totally on garage sales.” “I know that sounds odd to most people, but I just never bought into the money system all that much. I never spent it when I got it. It’s all a matter of perspective; most people spend the vast majority of their money on things I just don’t care about.”

The Gutenberg project began in 1971 by Michael Hart, The Project Gutenberg is to make information, books and other materials available to the general public in forms of vast majority of computers, programs that people can easily read, use, quote, and search. Hart thinks Project Gutenberg was anything that can be entered into a computer and can be reproduced indefinitely.  Michael termed “Replicator Technology” The concept of Replicator Technology is simple; once a book or any other item (including pictures, sounds, and even 3-D items can be stored in a computer), then any number of copies can and will be available. Project Gutenberg has been a part of celebrations of the 100th Anniversary of Public Libraries, starting in 1995. Project Gutenberg hopes to found “The Public Domain Register,” after the 100th Anniversary of The U.S. Copyright Register in 1997. There are three portions of the Project Gutenberg Library, they are; Light Literature; such as Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass, Peter Pan, Aesop’s Fables, etc.  Heavy Literature; such as the Bible or other religious documents, Shakespeare, Moby Dick, Paradise Lost, etc. References; such as Roget’s Thesaurus, almanacs, and a set of encyclopedia, dictionaries, etc. Everyone in the world, or even not in this world can have a copy of a book that has been entered into a computer. This philosophical premise has created several offshoots: Electronic Texts E-texts created by Project Gutenberg are to be made available in the simplest, easiest to use forms available. The major point is that years from now Project Gutenberg E-texts are still going to be viable, and  decade from now we probably won’t have the same operating systems, or the same programs and therefore all the various kinds of e-texts that are not Plain Vanilla ASCII will be obsolete. The project was a major success and it made it easier for people to get access to their favorite books and resources.

One can say that eBooks has done great things for the world but some can also say that EBooks aren’t all that good. An study performed by Heather Schugar, an associate education professor of education at West Chester University, and her husband, Jordan Schugar suggests ebooks could negatively affect how we comprehend what we read. They did their study to an class of middle school students, which they came to find that the students that were given ebooks retained less information from the reading than the students with the information in print. “(The students with ebooks) were much more motivated to read,” she says, “but they were also able to re-tell less. Their ability to answer questions wasn’t quite as strong when they were reading interactive ebooks.” The main problem that was found with the Ebooks are all the flashy gimmicks, interactive designs and ability to wander from the text that distract readers from the task of actually, well… reading. The Ebook was compared to a PowerPoint, with all the slides to fly in and dissolve and all of those effects it just becomes a distraction from the message. According to a Scientific American article the key difference between reading page and electronic material is in memory and learning. In digital format, readers tend to skim, looking for keywords. As a result the full content of the material is often lost. When using electronic material it takes more mental energy which leaves less for actual content retention. Reading from computer screens were even worse in comprehension to reading actual textbooks.

“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,” said Newby. “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.” Michael hart was truly touched the world and his invention will keep improving with the help of the new inventers and innovators. Ebooks made life easier for most people and solved problems that were once major but now a thing of the past . Michael hart will truly be missed but his legacy will live on every time an electronic material is read.


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