RP: What is your memory of school?
MH: School was just boring, except for baseball, marbles, dodge ball etc. School can be lots of fun if you don't care about grades. Grades are anathema to learning.
RP: Why anathema?
MH: When I was concerned about grades I never had a grasp of The Big Picture, it was all "Will it be on the exam?", whereas when I didn't care about the grades I studied the subject as a whole, remembered only what I thought was important, didn't worry about the exams so much, and got better grades anyway. When I was out for The Big Picture, I would read the textbooks for fun, entertainment, and education, not just slave tasking, and the results were better in every way.
The more years I spent in school, the less attention I paid to grades, and in the end I finished college with straight A's in only two years. I had learned how to learn. Something they don't really teach in school. Young kids know how to learn, and then this is taken away from them as school goes on. I relearned it.
RP: The mission statement of Project Gutenberg is to "break down the bars of ignorance and illiteracy." Does that not imply a wish to empower people politically by giving them free books?
MH: Breaking down the bars of ignorance and illiteracy is only political if someone else is trying to keep them up! A political statement tries to set policy; I don't set policy. I just try to lead by example. eBooks are revolutionary in the non-political sense, and yet they could change the world as much as the Gutenberg Press did.
RP: So what is the aim of Project Gutenberg?
MH: Project Gutenberg is about education and literacy, and providing a level playing field. I don't try to change people; I try to change the information infrastructure. We make eBooks and give them away. We don't choose which books or where they should go. What people do with them is totally up to them.
The following is an excerpt from an interview of Michael Hart, the founder of Project Gutenberg, by Richard Poynder.
Posted by Taylan at 12:51 PM