Thursday, September 15, 2011

Michael Stern Hart: Founder of Project Gutenberg: Advocate for the Spread of All Knowledge to All People

Jeffrey A. Tucker at Mises Daily has the story at The Inventor of the Digital Age.

Way back in 1971 Michael Stern Hart (March 8, 1947 — September 6, 2011), who passed away earlier this month, had a revelation at the University of Illinois while using the Internet that the digital age provided a means to make all knowledge available to everyone.

This revelation grew into Project Gutenberg, which today offers 36,000 free books. Indeed, Hart can be viewed as the inventor of the e-book.

As written at the Wikipedia:
"[T]he University of Illinois computer center gave Hart a user's account on its computer system.... Although the focus of computer use there tended to be data processing, Hart was aware that it was connected to a network (part of what would become the Internet) and chose to use his computer time for information distribution. Hart related that after his account was created on July 4, 1971, he had been trying to think of what to do with it and had seized upon a copy of the United States Declaration of Independence, which he had been given at a grocery store on his way home from watching fireworks that evening. He typed the text into the computer but was told that it would be unacceptable to transmit it to numerous people at once via e-mail.[5] Thus, to avoid crashing the system, he made the text available for people to download instead."
One can sort the digital world into three basic categories:
  • those who are ENABLING the spread of knowledge (e.g. Project Gutenberg, Wikipedia)
  • those who are HINDERING the spread of knowledge (e.g. Authors Guild, which opposes copying orphan works "pay or else", or Apple, Inc., "mine, mine, mine, all mine" )
  • those who want to MONOPOLIZE the blessings of the digital age (e.g. Apple, Inc.) and keep all PROFITS for themselves (e.g. Apple, Inc., J-STOR) and who arguably could care less about the spread of knowledge one way or the other, as long as THEIR bottom line adds up.
When we talk about reforming law and society -- anywhere in the world -- we should formulate our modern laws so as to make the world EASIER for the "enablers" and more DIFFICULT for those who are "hindering" the spread of knowledge or who are using the digital age primarily to stuff their own pockets.

Apple Inc. - A Monopolist in Action: YOU Belong to US

YOU belong to US -- is the philosophy of the monopolists....

"Once you enter the Big Tent of Apple, it's exceedingly hard to find the exit.
Over its 33-year history, Apple has consistently elected to limit consumer choice, creating a situation known as "lock in." As soon as you start buying stuff from Apple, you'll find it difficult to move to products made by someone else without losing everything you've already paid for....

[N]o other technology company exercises the same amount of control over what its customers can and can't do with the things they bought...." [emphasis added by LawPundit]
In a posting at the Mises Economics Blog at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Jeffrey Tucker writes in Apple the Monopolist about the damping effect that Apple is having on innovation:
"There is something very wrong here. Innovations are supposed to advance the social order, not merely cause everyone to cling to a single company ....

As Bastiat said, all innovation goes through three stages:
  • one firm possesses unique knowledge and profits from it
  • others imitate and share in profits;
  • the knowledge is widely shared and no longer profitable on its own, which thereby inspires new knowledge.
What Apple’s patents do is artificially prolong the first stage — to the detriment of all." [emphasis added by LawPundit]
We agree with that conclusion, but do not share Tucker's glowing view as expressed in that same posting about the innovativeness of Apple, which is grossly overstated and highly misjudged in the world by the uninformed.

 As written by Mike Elgan at PCWorld:
"[W]ho's innovating now? The LG KE850 was winning awards for its full-screen, touch-screen, on-screen keyboard before Jobs even announced the iPhone.

The best thing about the iPhone and iPod Touch -- the warm-and-fuzzy multitouch UI with gestures -- wasn't new, either. Various labs have been demonstrating similar UIs for more than a decade, and even Microsoft demonstrated a fully realized 3G UI in May, well before Apple shipped the iPhone....

And Wi-Fi in a media player? Ha! Microsoft's funky Zune had that almost a year before Apple did and SanDisk's Sansa Connect with Wi-Fi was released last June. Apple even stole the name for its iPod Touch product, according to HTC, which sells a touch-screen smart phone called the HTC Touch.

Don't get me wrong. I think Apple's execution of these features is far better than its competitors'. And it would be horrible decision-making to not build the iPhone simply because others pioneered key features. But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about Apple doing what Microsoft did: dominating the market with features other companies had first. If it was fair to slam Microsoft over Windows, it's fair to slam Apple over the iPhone and iPod Touch."
Apple has historically been a very good rip-off artist and has admittedly been superb at following a monopolistic strategy of proprietary rights for its own products, to the exclusion of all others.

FORCE -- not CONSENT or CHOICE -- is the Apple trademark: it is the antithesis of democracy and the free market system. At the same time Apple is stealing "OUR", the people's words, for their greedy commercial use: apple, pad, tunes, pod, tablet, touch. Apple created none of these words or the goodwill attached to them -- they simply steal them. WORDS belong to the people, not to some company. Why is this theft allowed by the law?

The company is unworthy of emulation, not only because of its monopolistic practices, but also because of worker exploitation and infliction of damage to the environment.
See e.g.  
We do not buy Apple products and never will. We do not support monopolists.

Other more gullible types can fill their coffers -- such consumers pay the bill for over-priced, over-hyped products being sold in large quantities only because competitive innovation has been stifled -- as currently is happening world-wide in the Apple suits against the entire Samsung Galaxy line, where the Galaxy S smartphone and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 are simply better products than what Apple is selling, and that is to be expected. Samsung is a manufacturer. Apple manufactures none of these products while Apple's design claims to a thin, flat rectangle with rounded corners are absurd.

As written at DailyTech in the Gadgets blog by Jason Mick:
"This isn't the first time that Apple has accused competitors over something it itself is doing.  Apple chief executive and co-founder, Steven P. Jobs has bragged about his mastery of stealing ideas from others, stating [video], "Picasso had a saying - 'Good artists copy, great artists steal.' And we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.""
Rather than innovate and improve, Apple has sued and is suing Samsung to try to get Galaxy products banned from the market as alleged design infringement copies. Why compete when you can monopolize?

Apple does not compete -- it tries to eliminate the competition. That is the sad history of this ugly company.

The most famous example is the lawsuit by Apple against Microsoft, in which Apple tried to monopolize the market for graphic computer displays, even though they stole the basic idea from Xerox (and I personally remember well seeing some of the first bitmap-type images at SLAC at Stanford, long before Apple existed) -- quoting from the Wikipedia:
"Apple Computer, Inc. v. Microsoft Corporation, 35 F.3d 1435 (9th Cir. 1994) was a copyright infringement lawsuit in which Apple Computer, Inc. (now Apple Inc.) sought to prevent Microsoft Corporation and Hewlett-Packard from using visual graphical user interface (GUI) elements that were similar to those in Apple's Lisa and Macintosh operating systems. The court ruled that, "Apple cannot get patent-protection for the idea of a graphical user interface, or the idea of a desktop metaphor [under copyright law]..."[1] In the midst of the Apple v. Microsoft lawsuit, Xerox also sued Apple alleging that Mac's GUI was heavily based on Xerox's.[2] The district court dismissed Xerox's claims without addressing whether Apple's GUI infringed Xerox's.[3] Apple lost all claims in the Microsoft suit except for the ruling that the trash can icon and folder icons from Hewlett-Packard's NewWave windows application were infringing. The lawsuit was filed in 1988 and lasted four years; the decision was affirmed on appeal in 1994,[1] and Apple's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied."
That lawsuit defeat has not kept Apple from following its monopolistic path, a path which permitted DOS and Windows to become the world standard for computers while Apple was forcing its users to buy only their proprietary products in their closed marketing system. As could be expected, the open system won out over a closed monopoly -- and it always will. Apple still has not learned that lesson.

Open systems ALWAYS win in the end, because open systems are the only ones that lead to the future. Closed systems lose because they are always dead ends. It is an old rule from Wall Street. NO ONE is bigger than the market.

The ISandIS Network

Our Websites and Blogs: 3D Printing and More 99 is not 100 Aabecis AK Photo Blog Ancient Egypt Weblog Ancient Signs (the book) Ancient World Blog Anthropomorphic Design Archaeology Travel Photos (blog) Archaeology Travel Photos (Flickr) Archaeo Pundit Arts Pundit Astrology and Birth Baltic Coachman Bible Pundit Biotechnology Pundit Book Pundit Chronology of the Ancient World Computer Pundit DVD Pundit Easter Island Script Echolat Einstein’s Voice Energy Environment and Climate Blog Etruscan Bronze Liver of Piacenza EU Laws EU Legal EU Pundit FaceBook Pundit Gadget Pundit Garden Pundit Golf Pundit Google Pundit Gourmet Pundit Hand Proof HousePundit Human Migrations Idea Pundit Illyrian Language Indus Valley Script Infinity One : The Secret of the First Disk (the game) Jostandis Journal Pundit Kaulins Genealogy Blog Kaulinsium Kiel & Kieler Latvian Blog Law Pundit Blog LexiLine Group Lexiline Journal Library Pundit Lingwhizt LinkedIn Literary Pundit Magnifichess Make it Music Maps and Cartography Megalithic World Megaliths Blog) Minoan Culture Mutatis Mutandis Nanotech Pundit Nostratic Languages Official Pundit Phaistos Disc Pharaonic Hieroglyphs Photo Blog of the World Pinterest Prehistoric Art Pundit Private Wealth Blog PunditMania Quanticalian Quick to Travel Quill Pundit Road Pundit Shelfari SlideShare (akaulins) Sport Pundit Star Pundit Stars Stones and Scholars (blog) Stars Stones and Scholars (book) Stonehenge Pundit The Enchanted Glass Twitter Pundit UbiquitousPundit Vision of Change VoicePundit WatchPundit Wine Pundit Word Pundit xistmz YahooPundit zistmz