[PGCanada] The reasons... (was PG Canada)

James Linden jlinden at pglaf.org
Mon Jan 10 06:07:34 PST 2005

If there are little things here and there that I can do, feel free to 
ask. An hour here or there I can do. :-)


I have about 350 texts in a database (and the source code to use said 
database), but in order to use the system, the content must be in a 
certain psuedo-markup. This markup takes about 5 minutes to apply to an 
average novel type text.

Demo can be seen at http://ibiblio.org/edison/engine/catalog.browse.php 
-- incidentally, this was the demo of the FIRST working markup-based 
system for PG, which was rejected by the masses as too much work (about 
3.5 years ago). Ironically, I wrote the engine in about 20 hours, and 
put the 350/ish texts in, by hand, in about 15 hrs. That's ~23 texts per 
hour - far less work than it currently takes.

At that rate (let's say 20 per hour), 10 volunteers could put PG's 
entire current collection (about 12,000 distinct/usable items) into the 
system in about 60 hours. As they do this work, the catalog, etc is 
automatically built, and various alternate formats automatically 
available. New formats can be added later, with each previously entered 
text automatically in that format.

Some rather basic Java applets and a bit of cooperation with DP could 
have put this post processing right into the DP system, with the 
automatic format conversion the end result, instead of various 
mismatched HTML/TXT, etc outputs.


Basically, my lack of forward motion on PG related matters is more a 
result of being completely fed-up with PG as a whole, and not being 
willing to _waste_ my time for nothing. I get paid for my expertise in 
dealing with data formats / knowledge repositories / collaborative data 
management. While I'd love to give the same to PG, I'm not going to be 
insulted while I'm doing it. (Note: my problems with PG started circa 
2000.) It was decided that my formatting/management engine wasn't 
workable for PG, by whomever make those decisions, so basically, 
continuing to work on the engine isn't worth my time and effort. I 
_still_ don't understand this, because in direct conversations with both 
Greg and Michael, I distinctly remember _both_ of them thinking it was a 
good idea.


As I see it, the big problem with PG is that everyone wants to be in 
charge of something, so PG is broken up into a zillion micro-managed 
pieces. It is this complete lack of process order that creates MORE work 
and slows everything down.

When Michael first talked to me about getting PG Canada started, there 
were a set of specific items that we both agreed on:

1) PG CAN would be completely independant of PG USA;
2) PG CAN would implement a "next generation" system, for PG CAN's own 
use and as a proof of concept for PG USA;

This next generation system includes collaborative processing, automatic 
format conversion, enhanced cataloging, capability for language 
translation, backend for voice synthesis (and not that garbage that's 
currently in PG's archive), and a few other things.

Not only have I spent years researching and experimenting, but I've 
created proof of concepts for all of it, at various times and in various 
pieces. What I am suggesting as the "next generation" for PG is not only 
possible, but well worth the effort.

Unfortunately, getting a half dozen programmers with proper skills and a 
similar vision has proven very difficult. So far, we have ONE, and he's 
only marginally available due to university and work. That leaves me, 
and my availability is only a little better, but around life and running 
a business, what time I do have that I can put into PG is uniformly 
wasted in political BS, turf wars, format wars, etc.


So, I should clarify / sum up -- I _HAVE_ time for PG related work, but 
it's limited to about 6 hrs per week. I don't want to waste that 6 hrs 
in turf wars and political crap, but it's not enough time to make 
headway with a development project of the appropriate size. This 
basically means that my 6 hrs is better spent doing other things right 
now. Understand, if someone paid me a small salary to cover my bills (so 
I wouldn't have to work as a contractor), I'd work for PG full time -- 
building this system. Once built, PGs could spring up all over the place 
(Russia, Africa, Asia, etc), just by installing said system and doing 
some basic configuration (default interface language, logo, etc). And, 
ALL output from ALL of them would be uniform and cross compatible! (And 
yeah, there would be TEI output...)


I'm going to stop my rant, even though there is a lot more to say...

Some docs about my ideas/system are available online:

-- James

Darryl Moore wrote:
> That's too bad James. I was hoping we could get some help from you, 
> however, I fully understand. My time has been really tight too, however 
> I have been continuing to work on this a bit here and there. Not nearly 
> as fast as I'd like though.
> I have a wiki almost set up on my home site on which I'd like to 
> collaborate with others on creating the corporate documentation. (some 
> of which is already in a rough draft) As I've said before I think a 
> registered Not-For-Profit (then hopefully charity) will get more 
> attention on The Hill then 'a bunch of guys with a web site'.
> Also, I found an interesting open source document database at: 
> http://docdb.sourceforge.net/
> I am trying to install it on my home server for testing purposes. If we 
> can add to this some way to convert XML<-->ASCII when 
> submitting/retrieving documents, this might be all we need (with a few 
> static web pages) to get a basic PG up and running. And running in James 
> preferred incarnation. Thoughts???
> -------
> As an aside, as I've been getting more and more annoyed with MS over 
> recent years, and as I've learned more and more about IP issues, I've 
> finally taken the big step and moved all my home and work machines over 
> to Linux. Wouldn't have been nearly so painful if I weren't at the same 
> time trying to set up all kinds of servers, implement networking, remote 
> 'X' server/clients etc... Oh well, I'm almost at the top of the initial 
>  learning curve now.
> -------
> cheers,
> darryl
> James Linden wrote:
>> Several people have recently voice a desire to get PG Canada going. 
>> I'd like to invite them to do so. I am not currently in a place of my 
>> life that I can devote any time to PG, so I'm going to fully step 
>> aside and let everyone else go at it without me in the way.
>> I currently have control of the projectgutenberg.ca domain, and I'll 
>> point DNS to whomever is going to host the site, just give me the DNS 
>> server names.
>> I will be staying on the mailing lists so as to still be available if 
>> the need arises.
>> May PG Canada succeed (and kick PG USA's butt!)... EH!
>> Regards,
>>   James Linden
>>   http://www.kodekrash.com/
>>   http://www.eidix.org/
>> _______________________________________________
>> Project Gutenberg of Canada
>> Website: http://www.projectgutenberg.ca/
>> List: pgcanada at lists.pglaf.org
>> Archives: http://lists.pglaf.org/private.cgi/pgcanada/
> _______________________________________________
> Project Gutenberg of Canada
> Website: http://www.projectgutenberg.ca/
> List: pgcanada at lists.pglaf.org
> Archives: http://lists.pglaf.org/private.cgi/pgcanada/

More information about the PGCanada mailing list