Amazon’s “Kindle Unlimited” announcement has been helping raise awareness of Open Library.
Last week, Amazon informed us that for ten dollars per month, Kindle users can have unlimited access to over six hundred thousand books in its library. But it shouldn’t cost a thing to borrow a book, Amazon, you foul, horrible, profiteering enemies of civilization. For a monthly cost of zero dollars, it is possible to read six million e-texts at the Open Library, right now. On a Kindle, or any other tablet or screen thing.
July 12, 2014 marked the passing of an extraordinary librarian, Zoia Horn. Ms. Horn was best known in library circles for spending three weeks in jail in 1972 for having refused to testify before a grand jury regarding information relating to Phillip Berrigan’s library use. Ms. Horn stated: “To me it stands on: Freedom of thought — but government spying in homes, in libraries and universities inhibits and destroys this freedom.”
Throughout her life, Ms. Horn was on the forefront of the protection of academic and intellectual freedom, especially in libraries. She was an outspoken opponent of the PATRIOT ACT. She won numerous awards for her work, and a Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award was inaugurated in 2004 by the California Library Association.
The Internet Archive is proud to have been a recipient of that award in 2010, and Brewster Kahle was presented with the award by Ms. Horn herself.
Along with so many others who have fought for freedom, we will greatly miss Ms. Horn, and we honor her memory by continuing her work.
As the Archive moves more widely into the archiving of software, it quickly becomes apparent that there’s going to be an awful lot of programs online without much indication of what they are. With many thousands of programs or program collections to choose from, determining what might be inside becomes a pretty involved task.
In the case of movies, images and texts, there are previews that help show what is contained in the files in a given item. These are extremely helpful, as they not only show the quality or style of the works, but give all sorts of information that might not be reflected in the metadata.
Starting now, the same will be true for many types of software.
Using a combination of the JSMESS emulator and screen capturing software, the Archive has begun automatic “playing out” of sets of programs, snagging shots of what the software does, and then providing it as a guidepost of what is to come with that program.
For example, work has just been completed on the playable Sega Genesis Library, where the directory view of the items in the collection show helpful screenshots, and individual games show animated playthroughs of the beginning of the cartridge.
The process is still evolving – currently it requires real-time capture (that is, capturing the first five minutes of a program takes an actual five minutes), but with multiple machines moving through collections, screenshots will be available for huge amounts of programs in coming weeks and months.
Along with the obvious graphical prettiness comes an even greater cultural benefit: the freeing of screenshots.
As these shots have often been done manually or have been gathered by hand, there has risen a tendency to put watermarks or credits with the images to indicate who did the work. While it’s an understandable urge to want some kudos for the effort, it meant that the very work being lauded (the graphics of the program) was being vandalized to ensure credit where credit was due.
None of the screenshots we are generating will have watermarks, and can be used freely for other purposes as you see fit.
To celebrate this, we’ve created a compilation of all the Sega Genesis screenshots generated by the project so far. The compilation is here. Be warned – it’s 4.3 gigabytes of 16,900 screenshots of 573 cartridges! (There’s a way to browse it at this link.)
Many screenshots are simply informative, but many more are truly works of art, as artists and programmers strained the edges of these underpowered machines to create the most evocative images possible. With this screenshotting effort underway, that work will hopefully get a new life and respect on the web.
Free the Screenshots!
The Internet Archive joined Our Fair Deal along with EFF and Public Knowledge to stop the US from using the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty from changing our copyright laws. The coalition sent two open letters to TPP negotiators today on critical issues that you can learn about here. Let’s foster open debate and proper process before further changes to copyright laws restrict public access even more.
Please consider joining this coalition.
Open Library will be down from 5:00PM to 7:00PM SF time (PDT, UTC/GMT -7 hours) on July 1, 2014 due to scheduled hardware maintenance. We’ll post updates here and on @openlibrary twitter. Thank you for your cooperation.
The Long Now Foundation works to encourage long term thinking in our increasingly “now” oriented culture (read more about them and their projects below).
Long Now just opened a new cafe, bar and event space called The Interval at Fort Mason Center. It features prototypes and artifacts from the 10,000 Year Clock they are building, thousands of books on floor-to-ceiling shelves, art created by Long Now co-founder Brian Eno, and a cocktail menu designed by Jennifer Colliau (Slanted Door / Small Hand Foods) There’s a great article at eater.com on their recent launch.
July 8, 2014 at 6pm
2 Marina Blvd.
Fort Mason Center Building A
San Francisco, CA 94123
RSVP on meetup
On Tuesday, July 8th please join us at The Interval to enjoy their amazing cocktails–they also serve beer, wine, Sightglass coffee, tea and cocktail-worthy no-alcohol drinks. Long Now Foundation staff will be on hand to tell you more about the organization and how you can follow, participate, and support what they do. (Memberships start at $8 / month and include free tickets to their Seminar series!)
All this in their amazing, inspiring space along with your fellow Humanitarians, a great chance to meetup, hang out, and get to know each other better over some delicious drinks. The night starts at 6pm and we’ll hang out for a little less than a millennia (The Interval is only open until midnight anyway).
About The Long Now Foundation
The Long Now Foundation was established in 01996 to encourage and foster long-term thinking and responsibility through a variety of projects including a Clock designed to last 10,000 years, a monthly Seminar series about long-term thinking, Revive and Restore which is focused on genetic rescue for endangered and extinct species, and the Rosetta Projectwhich preserves the diversity of human languages. In short their goal is to make long-term thinking more automatic and common rather than difficult and rare.
The term “Long Now” was coined by co-founder Brian Eno after observing that in New York City the word here meant “this room” and now meant “about five minutes”. It led Brian to reflecton the importance of living in a bigger here and a longer now.
What does “the long now” mean?
The 10,000 Year Clock is a project to build a monument scale, multi-millennial, all mechanical clock as an icon to long-term thinking.
The Rosetta Project is Long Now’s first exploration into very long-term archiving. The project is a global collaboration of language specialists and native speakers building a publicly accessible digital library of human languages. Below is an image of the Rosetta Disk: thousands of pages of language information micro-etched on a nickel disk in order to preserve them without the risk of digital obsolescence.
The Internet’s Own Boy, the documentary about Aaron Swartz, premieres online and in theaters today. From the film’s website
The Internet’s Own Boy follows the story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz. From Swartz’s help in the development of the basic internet protocol RSS to his co-founding of Reddit, his fingerprints are all over the internet. But it was Swartz’s groundbreaking work in social justice and political organizing combined with his aggressive approach to information access that ensnared him in a two-year legal nightmare. It was a battle that ended with the taking of his own life at the age of 26. Aaron’s story touched a nerve with people far beyond the online communities in which he was a celebrity. This film is a personal story about what we lose when we are tone deaf about technology and its relationship to our civil liberties.
Here is Aaron’s blog post, from 2007, announcing Open Library. We wouldn’t have gotten to where we are without him and we miss him.
Our goal is to build the world’s greatest library, then put it up on the Internet free for all to use and edit. Books are the place you go when you have something you want to share with the world — our planet’s cultural legacy. And never has there been a bigger attempt to bring them all together.