Stop Telling Us To Stop Reinventing The Wheel

By Michael Hart

I'm tired of people complaining about other people reinventing whatever wheel happens to be theirs in the one sense and they want it to be theirs in all the possible senses, including outright ownership. Nobody owns the wheel. It can be, and has been, reinvented over countless years and countless times, and we can benefit a countless number of times in our lifetimes. As a result there are plenty of wheels for numbers of jobs in the thousands or tens of thousands.

However, there are certain numbers of conservative people, very conservative people, who don't want a new wheel to be invented every day, or every year. These people want stability more than progress. These are the persons who are too tired to keep up with change.

So tired, in fact, that they would pass some laws, just to keep things the same. . .a sameness that a businessperson can rely upon for more profit, over more years without worrying about competition from some new-fangled product that might come along and upset the apple cart.

My Own Personal Invention Has Been The eBook

On the one hand there are countless people who are not even aware that eBooks exist or could exist on their cell phones, computers, PDAs, Play Stations, GameBoys, and all those literally BILLIONS of such things out there in the world that could display a full text eBook without any difficulty.

On the other hand there are those who would tell a person such as myself that there is no need for an eBook, an eLibrary, etc., as there are plenty of a previous century's libraries around free of charge to anyone who wants to use them.

Well, not quite free, if you look at your property tax assessment, or other membership requirements a supposedly free public library actually has. More and more often I see questions online about a request from this or that library for a policy out of some other library restricting access either to books or reference services to those who paid.

However, for me, the real issue at hand is eBooks, and the desire of some very conservative people to control eBooks, to make each and every eBook be an exact duplication of some particular paper book of which they have already approved.

Of course, part of this argument spirals down to a ad infinitum speculation on error correction, in a blatant attempt to change subject from approval to accuracy, when accuracy of course, only comes into play when comparing the some other specific book - rather than to any of the new editions that always inevitably come out of new publishing options.

It is these new publishing options that reinvent a whole previous history of publishing, overthrowing the previous powers-that-be of an industry without any concern for the previous positions of power.

However, the-powers-that-be are not going out with no fight, that's for sure, and even processes to a governmental "Open Access" rule for documents paid for with your tax money have been shot down by the very same people who shot down the U. S. amendment for Equal Rights for Women. Pat Schroeder is in the driver's seat now, at the American Association of publishers, doing the same thing to Open Access today that she did to Equal Rights earlier.

These people don't actually think the world better without Equal Rights and Open Access, they do feel it will be easier to rule the world without them - and that is their main agenda. The main agenda of my career has been to insure no one rules the world so tightly. I believe everyone should own their own library.

Before The Gutenberg Press People Didn't Own Books. Before Project Gutenberg People Didn't Own Libraries

Those people who tell us to stop reinventing books and libraries are those who want to control access to books and libraries, to control access to those things that get into the human mind.

These people, are indeed, "The Thought Police" and they should be treated as such.

Michael S. Hart [], inventor of eBooks, founder of Project Gutenberg, a cofounder of The World eBook Fair [], is credited with the cofounding of the Open Source movement as well as being a pioneer by example of how the Internet should be. He may be reached at