“All progress depends on unreasonable people”

Michael Hart, who founded Project Gutenberg in 1971 has died.

On Independence Day 1971, inspired by receiving a free printed copy of the Declaration of Independence, Michael typed the text of the declaration into a computer file and sent it to other users of the machine. He followed it up by typing the text of the Bill of Rights, and then, in 1973, the full text of the US constitution.

Hart personally typed the text of the first 100 books in the archive, including the complete works of Shakespeare. As the project grew, others helped in an early example of crowdsourcing. In April 2002, The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci were added as the 500th book. Currently the site has 36,000 ebooks currently available.

In his obituary of Hart, his colleague Gregory Newby described him as an “unreasonable” man, in George Bernard Shaw’s celebrated use of the term. “Reasonable people,” wrote Shaw, “adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.”

Read the entire article here.

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