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Distributed Proofreaders Update for 18 February 2004

Have you wondered recently where DP is going to? Do things seem to be a little disjointed lately? You are not alone. I have heard this from more than a few people in the past couple of weeks. What is important to recognize is that such questions are good to air and are not always an indication of something being wrong. More often than not when an environment feels adrift or disjointed it is an indication of a state of flux between distinct stages of growth. This is the very type of stage which we are passing through now at DP.

In past weeks we have highlighted some of the transformations taking place. The origins of these changes stretch back well before the new year and they will yet require a good deal more time before they settle into definitive daily patterns. It is at such times as this that we all need to draw closer together and not slip into a general sense of disorientation. Being distributed has powerful benefits when our mutual skills and efforts are applied to specific tasks. Yet that same distribution can work against us as a community, if we are not active in reaching out to each other in transitional or turbulent times.

We are heading for some interesting destinations in the months ahead. During this time DP will be expanding and innovating into untried regions. We have always done this and by staying dedicating to growth and innovation we have made this project an impressive success. If there is a distinction about the present time it may be that the scope and pace of development is broader and faster than in previous times of change. Together we can deal with this.

At this same time we are also witnessing an international expansion to the PG infrastructure and the rise of a completely new Distributed Proofreaders through the Rastko network of archives. This is a monumental change, and we need to be sensitive to all the ways these developments will effect us as a diverse and dispersed community of thousands working towards the same objective.

In my view what we need this week is a little less focus upon the news and a little more focus upon who we are and who we are becoming as a working community. Project Gutenberg established something very unique in history and very natural to the open nature of this medium. Distributed Proofreaders opened the work of PG up to a vastly wider audience of contributors than was ever imagined. Together, the two projects have become something new in themselves that was not foreseen--perhaps even a new social model.

We can travel from PG to PGEU and from DP to DPEU or to any mix among the four and we will find familiar faces. "Who's who?" and "What's what?" is causing more than a little confusion these days. It seems like it shouldn't but it is ... and it is up to each us working together to puzzle our way through this labyrinth. More often than not, what were once two distinctive projects are growing harder to discern. This has been underscored most recently by the developing projects in Europe.

I thought about whether or not to open this discussion in the newsletter or in the forums. The newsletter is the better choice because it reaches across all the projects related to PG ... and this is what we need to do; reach across. So in order to achieve that, we are going to do something different with this week's column. We are going to make it interactive and let a broad mix of readers participate in the discussion. To do this will require two editions of the column; and early and a late one. The first you are reading now,and the second will be published on the newsletter archive as well as in the two DP forums.

The interactive elements will take place in the Culture & History forum, where we all can discuss these topics at great length. Now this is a new idea, and untried, so bear with the bumps that are sure to occur, and where you feel it helpful, join in and enrich this important discussion. The future of PG belongs to the world. We each have a stake in that future. We each have a say. What I am trying to do here is provide a shape and form for that important conversation.

Stay tuned! Watch for the Late Edition in the Promotional forum.

For now...

Thierry Alberto

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