By John Crockford
Free Books Online
The Online Books Page (http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/), which lists more than one million free books on the Web, is a service of the University of Pennsylvania.
Project Gutenberg (www.gutenberg.org/) offers more than 40,000 free ebooks: Choose among free epub books and free Kindle books; download them or read them online.
Downloading and reading free books on your smartphone or tablet computer is made easy through dedicated apps such as Stanza (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/stanza/id284956128?mt=8) for Apple products and Kobo (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.kobobooks.android) for Android devices.
By the way, if you have an iPhone or an iPad, you can find great apps (including some high-priced ones) without spending a dime using the AppsGoneFree app (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/appsgonefree/id470693788?mt=8). I haven’t found a similar app for Android phones, but if you know of one let me know and I’ll get it into the next column.
Thanks to open standards brought about by advances in licensing, technology and Web design, the revolution brought about by the invention of mechanical movable type appears to be alive and well in the form of electronic publishing. Electronic publication (referred to as EPUB or ePub) is a free and open e-book standard by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). I encourage you to learn more about this socially important technology by visiting the Wikipedia article “EPUB” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPUB). Then go out and publish your own book.
Bitcoin (http://bitcoin.org/) is one of the first implementations of a concept called crypto-currency. Building on the notion that money is any object, or any sort of record, accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts in a given country or socioeconomic context, Bitcoin is designed around the idea of using cryptography to control the creation and transfer of money, rather than relying on central authorities.
Bitcoin is used by Wikileaks (http://shop.wikileaks.org/donate) to bypass the financial blockade promulgated by the U.S. government.
John Crockford, a self-described “geek with Luddite sympathies,” is an independent Web site designer and consultant. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.