File:Eserver logo.jpg

EServer.org logo

The EServer is an open access electronic publishing cooperative, founded in 1990,[1] which publishes writings in the arts and humanities free of charge to Internet readers. It is rated by Alexa as the most popular arts and humanities website in the world.[2] As of 2005, the EServer published more than 32,000 works.[1] In December 2006 it hosted approximately 66,000 readers per day (two million per month).[3]

Martha L. Brogan and Daphnée Rentfrow wrote in 2005 that it has "more than 200 active members, including editors of an eclectic mix of 45 discrete 'collections' (Web sites), which 'publish' more than 32,000 works."[1] Duke University Library rates the EServer among the "best overall directories for literary information on the Web."[4]

Scope of collection[edit | edit source]

The EServer publishes written works in the arts and humanities, largely (but not exclusively) those from the Western cultural tradition. In addition to literature such as poetry, novels, drama and short stories, the EServer publishes seven scholarly journals. Most releases are in English, but there are also significant numbers in many other languages. Whenever possible, EServer publications are released in open standards, such as XHTML.

History[edit | edit source]

File:Eserver 1996.jpg

The EServer, 1996

The EServer was founded in 1990, when a group of graduate students set up their office computer in "Trailer H" on the Carnegie Mellon University campus network to permit them to collaborate with one another. In 1991, with the addition of more disk space, it became an Internet network server designed to provide public access (via FTP, telnet and Gopher to literary research, criticism, novels, and writings from various humanities disciplines.

The site, originally called the English Server, was dedicated to publishing works in the arts and humanities free of charge to Internet readers. It was developed to assist leisure reading in particular, following a study by Geoffrey Sauer (the site's director) into the rapid and significant increase of books in the United States post-1979 and a consequent decrease in leisure readings among young Americans. By 1992 it was an extremely popular Gopher and FTP site, and by 1993 had a significant World Wide Web presence.

Its original Internet domain name was "english-server.hss.cmu.edu", which later became "english-www.hss.cmu.edu", then "english.hss.cmu.edu", then "eng.hss.cmu.edu". In the years since, the name was shortened to "eserver.org", and it is usually referred to as "EServer."

Ideals[edit | edit source]

Contemporary publishing tend to place highest value on works that sell to broad markets. Quick turnover, high-visibility marketing campaigns for bestsellers, and corporate "superstore" bookstores have all made it less common for unique and older texts to be published. Geoffrey Sauer has argued that the costs this marketing adds to all books discourage people from leisure reading as a common practice. Publishers, he argues, then tend to encourage authors to write books with strong appeal to the current, undermining (if unknowingly) writings with longer-term implications.[5]

Criticism[edit | edit source]

The EServer was described in 2005 as linking to works of varied origin and quality.[1] It was described in July 2006 as having some broken links and some out-of-date collections.[6]

It has moved since then heavily to open source content management systems such as Plone and Drupal to assist EServer editors in updating, improving and developing these links.

Copyright issues[edit | edit source]

Copyright for the texts and collections published on the EServer are held by their authors, with rare exception for works commissioned by the EServer itself. Some of the texts are published under Creative Commons licenses, though many are distributed under an older model, which preserves the copyright in the author but permits reading and linking but not redistribution, except under specific limited conditions.

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]


External links[edit | edit source]

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  • Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.