Free e-book: “Archaeology, Anthropology, and Interstellar Communication” | NASA

NASA is giving away a free e-book on extraterrestrial communication:

“Archaeology, Anthropology, and Interstellar Communication” by Douglas Vakoch. Addressing a field that has been dominated by astronomers, physicists, engineers, and computer scientists, the contributors to this collection raise questions that may have been overlooked by physical scientists about the ease of establishing meaningful communication with an extraterrestrial intelligence. These scholars are grappling with some of the enormous challenges that will face humanity if an information-rich signal emanating from another world is detected.

“Archaeology, Anthropology, and Interstellar Communication” | NASA.

via "Archaeology, Anthropology, and Interstellar Communication" | NASA.

Dan Brown offers “The Da Vinci Code” as free e-book, with peek at new book, Inferno

Available through March 24, Dan Brown fans can get a look at the opening of his upcoming book, “Inferno,” along with a free ebook of his breakthrough best-seller, “The Da Vinci Code,” publisher Doubleday announced today.

Get the book here.

Read more: Dan Brown offers peek at new book, Inferno.

5 places to download free e-books

From Tonic.com, this list of five places to download free e-books:

1. Project Gutenberg — The granddaddy of all e-book sites, Gutenberg contains the text of thousands of public-domain titles. From the Bible to the Kama Sutra and everything in between, they’re all there. And you can read their titles just about anywhere, be it your computer, your Kindle, your iPad, or your phone.

2. ManyBooks — Like Project Gutenberg but a little bit prettier, ManyBooks has about 26,000 free e-books just waiting to be downloaded. The site started out with e-book version of Project Gutenberg titles, but has expanded to include many additional public domain and Creative Commons titles from additional sources.

3.Tor.com — Tor is one of the world’s biggest Science Fiction publishers and they took the steps to embrace e-books years ago. Their website is packed with free books and stories from their best-known authors. Their logic is that if you read a book for free, you might also want to buy it in print. Your mileage may vary on that logic, but it’s still a great source for some good reads.

4. Amazon and Barnes & Noble — If you bought Amazon’s Kindle or Barnes & Noble’s Nook, you may as well keep shopping with them. Each of their sites offers hundreds of free books. They’re often the same books you’d find at the sites above, but you might also luck out and find that a publisher is offering its commercial e-books for free as a special deal through one of the online stores.

5. Your local library — What’s that, you didn’t know that your library has free e-books? Well, it all depends on how quickly your state’s library system is adapting to the electronic world. Some libraries have actual Kindles you can borrow, with e-books loaded on them, while others let you visit a special library site and download e-books to your reader for a week or two. (My library hasn’t gotten that far yet, but I can download audiobooks to my iPod any time I want.) Does your library offer this? You don’t know unless you ask.

I like Tor’s attitude a lot, because I think it’s valid — if I read an ebook for free, I actually just might want it in print, or more to the point, want more from from that author. And I have nothing but terrific things to say about Project Gutenberg. While Google Books are poorly scanned and horribly OCRd, PG books have been carefully proofread by teams of volunteers. Much better quality.

C-SPAN puts its full archives online

From The New York Times:

Researchers, political satirists and partisan mudslingers, take note: C-Span has uploaded virtually every minute of its video archives to the Internet. The archives, at C-SpanVideo.org, cover 23 years of history and five presidential administrations and are sure to provide new fodder for pundits and politicians alike.

Wow. That’s… a lot of video. Instantly I’m curious as to how well it’s indexed and searchable. Is it really accessible, or just thrown up there on the web willy-nilly? Like Rachel Maddow said in the article linked above, will it be “like being able to Google political history using the ‘I Feel Lucky’ button every time,” or will it be a more useful research tool? Did interns at The Daily Show just get a lucky break?