Google vs. Project Gutenberg?

Upon reading about Google’s plans to digitize and make searchable the research libraries of UMich, Stanford, Harvard, the New York Public Library of Oxford (coverage, among other places: The New York Times, Boston Globe, Boing Boing, Joi Ito), I thought about my former coworkers at the Electronic Text Center at the University of Virginia. I wondered about their not being part of this announcement; the center has been involved for a long time with making public domain works available. In fact, I helped convert some texts to the center’s custom SGML format myself when I worked there ten years ago.

And many of the texts we worked with came from Project Gutenberg, the often discussed and more often ignored project to make out-of-copyright books electronically available to the public domain. I wonder, too, why their name isn’t on the announcement. And why none of the newspaper accounts even mentioned them.

Perhaps I’m reading too much into this. After all, Gutenberg’s texts are already searchable by Google. But why wouldn’t they hop into this project?

Blogging about books about blogging

New York Times: A New Forum (Blogging) Inspires the Old (Books). The article name-checks all the usual suspects, including Salam Pax, Jessica Cutler, Ana Marie Cox, Belle de Jour, Real Live Preacher, Julie Powell, and Elizabeth Spiers, but misses Tony Pierce (though he did get featured on Screen Savers). The interesting thing is that bloggers may be more interesting to publishers not because their everyday writing is readily accessible for judging but because they come with a built-in audience. So much for the art of literature.

Getting hungry

Carie pointed me to Bob Heffner’s Pepperoni Roll Page after I enquired about the origin of the fantastic snacks she brought me for my birthday. It’s my kind of food origin story—starting with an Italian baker in West Virginia looking to find a good portable snack food for Appalachian coal miners, and ending with a special federal exemption for the West Virginia bakers who produce them to get around rules about bread and meat products (no, seriously).

Cheeselords uber alles

The Suspicious Cheese Lords got some props recently from the Washington Post (many thanks to Greg for pointing out the article, which I missed). Quoth the Post’s reviewer, “The Suspicious Cheese Lords are a men’s chamber chorus founded in 1996 that’s beginning to make a name for itself in this area — for its singing as much as its odd appellation. And in a well-researched concert of mostly Renaissance music at the Franciscan Monastery in Northeast Washington on Sunday, they showed off the sort of blend accomplished only by careful listening.”

She also called the group’s name a “clever bastardization,” which is perhaps the most apt description of the group that I’ve heard yet.

Alas, I’m still waiting on the new CDs. I’m beginning to think that they’ll have to be Epiphany presents rather than being under the tree on the 25th…