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Distributed Proofreaders Update for 14 January 2004

Happy new year!

Yes, I know, you've heard it before. You've heard it so many times in fact that by the 14th it seems to have little true resonance. Now I don't write the news here, I just make it up, so far be it for me to play shepherd of meaning, but I can recognize a New year when I see one. Fresh from the gate, 2004 has all the markings a unique life form. 2003, wonderful as it was for DP, is truly a creature of history.

Now happiness is a subjective perception, so can a year, in and of itself, actually be happy? For you and me we say "yes." However there are a few readers in the back of the room shaking their heads, so let's see what can be revealed within these past couple of weeks to dissuade them out of their disbelief.

Throughout the world, many of our spiritual traditions express the idea that the surest path to happiness is found by giving to others. The unselfish gift so often proves an inspiration for joy. As anyone who has experienced some will tell you, joy is very contagious. Spread some of this good stuff around at the beginning of a year, and sure as the sun warms your skin, joy will flow forward and illuminate the weeks and months which follow.

Now if you are Distributed Proofreaders how do you start this wheel of happiness spinning? What do you give, more than what you already do, and how should you decide who best to give to over another. Ah... both valid questions, true. But you must know by now that I have thought about this, thought a great deal in fact over these past weeks. The answer is right at our feet, the very ground we stand upon shines up at us like the proverbial "acres of diamonds." That ground is the public domain.

"But we already give to the public domain," I hear from the back of the room; "In fact, that's all DP lives to do." True indeed ... but the operative word in my opening wish was "new." This is a new year, and if we desire it to be different than other years, we must do things in new ways. This includes giving in new ways as well.

PG/DP lives within the USA, and so we operate under the limits upon the public domain which presently are imposed upon the USA. It is fair to say that over the past several years, those of us who live fenced off from an ever increasing public domain have forgotten the pleasure that rises when a favorite book is at last released to the public good at the start of the new year. Yet in countries around the globe, works by a vast selection of authors were set free this New Year's day. Not single titles alone, but entire libraries of work have for the first time become freely available where the laws allow copyright to be retained for 50-70 years beyond an author's life.

Across the European Union, the works of authors who passed away in 1933 have been freely available for these past two weeks. If you are a fan of Robert William Chambers, John Galsworthy, Sara Teasdale or George Augustus Moore and live within a 70+ country, I do envy you the pleasures that are yours to enjoy this month and beyond. How fine it must be to at last partake to your heart's content of the thoughts, feelings and ideas of a favorite author! Well, at least to the extent of what is available by these authors in Project Gutenberg. Ah! ... and here is the true path to happiness for this year. Here is what Distributed Proofreaders can give in a manner beyond what it already does and focus that attention upon a specific audience.

With an inspired, dedicated effort, that I will personally champion, those at DP who desire to, can help expand the existing PG libraries by authors new to the public domain in the +50-70 countries. This will of course be limited to those works of a pre-23 vintage, but this remains to be quite a large number of titles. Watch for details about this initiative in the forums over the coming days, there is participation to be enjoyed at every level of research and production, as well as a promise of happiness that will stay with you long beyond the borders of this year and years to come.

Within our own DP community we have so much to give. Through this effort we may express our gratitude for all that has been given by members from countries where many projects at DP were not open for the PD at home. There is so much to give through this effort and so much to be received in return. A happy new year it is and a happy new year it shall continue to be. My hope is that we may establish this as a January tradition at PG/DP.

2004 already teases us with a vast and wondrously promising expansion of the DP dream, which will fill the news of the weeks and the months beyond. The initial tests have begun on a sister project which will apply what has been developed and learned thus far towards works outside the clearance field of DP. This is one of the original promises of the Internet kept and true, the collaborative effort of dedicated individuals throughout the world working for a better and brighter future. Do stay tuned for developments on this item!!

Finally, what would a new year be without a significant milestone? Today we celebrate a very special one. Just a couple of hours ago, the 3,000th completed project at DP was posted to PG. Yes, it was just in September that we completed the 2,000th project. And yes, that IS pretty amazing, but hey, we're amazin' folks! Okay, some of us are amazin'! Like Karl Hagen, for instance, who took on the heroic labor of post processing The Anatomy of Melancholy, by Democritus Junior. A project which is legendary in the history & lore of DP. It is sure that few would begrudge this book the title of the most challenging text to lumber through the rounds. If proofing a handful of pages pushed the limits of your mental stability, imagine the endurance test post processing must have presented. Yet through the mastery of the digital scribe who wrestled Beowulf into submission and sailed the seas with Hakluyt to bring back the journals of that odyssey, the AOM is now complete.

The setting of this project as the commemorative DP3K posting is a small gesture of appreciation to Karl and all the DP members who put their efforts into bringing this historically significant text before the world in a contemporary form.

With such a commemoration we also recognize that this year begins with a valid confirmation that all things are indeed possible if we are willing to stand up and say "yes" to the challenges which life presents to us. This is one of the many gifts which DP offers to us each day, if we only partake and give something of ourselves.

Until next week...the best to each and all of you, now and for the 50 weeks ahead!

Thierry Alberto

Links to Articles

19 October 2004
18 February 2004
11 February 2004
4 February 2004
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17 December 2003
3 December 2003
19 November 2003
12 November 2003
5 November 2003
29 October 2003
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15 October 2003
8 October 2003
1 October 2003
17 September 2003
10 September 2003
3 September 2003
27 August 2003
20 August 2003