Underground: Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier is a book written by Suelette Dreyfus with research by Julian Assange in 1997. The book’s title is an apt description of what the book is about, so I won’t go into detail about that. One of the unusual things about Underground is that the authors licensed the book as literary freeware, which means that the book is available to anyone, anywhere at no cost, and with almost no restrictions whatsoever, except for commercial use of course. The book is available at Project Gutenburg as well as at underground-book.net. After reading Underground in 2007, I tried to contact Suelette Dreyfus about making a festival text to speech audio version available as a serialized podcast. I never could get in touch with her, so I emailed Julian Assange about this:

Tue, Mar 6, 2007, 8:41 PM

Julian, I have tried many time times to contact both you and Suelette regarding this. I would like very much to make the book Underground available in festival generated audio in a podcast format. I have taken the text files available at http://www.xs4all.nl/~suelette/underground/underground-speech-text/ and have converted them to audio using festival. I would like very much to make these files available as mp3 and ogg files (converted from the verbatim text files) available for download on an individual basis, as well as to allow the end user to subscribe to an rss feed containing the audio files. My gut tells me that this is something that I am allowed, but I do not want to assume the wrong thing. I want to make sure that i have permission to do this. Please know that I seek no personal gain from this. I would just be making the converted files available to people in modern download-able format. The feed could even be available in iTtunes. Please let me know if this is something I am allowed to do. Thanks in advance for your kind consideration of this request.

His reply:

Tues, Mar 6, 2007, 10:04 PM Dear dave. Please do!

Sorry if we haven’t been easily available. Busy consulting for this http://wikileaks.org/

Best, J

I only included the above exchange for the following obvious reasons: it was super cool to have talked to one of the authors; Julian Assange wrote the super cool program surfraw (that I still use today in a rofi menu); the historical reference to wikileaks in it’s infancy; and Julian Assange is even more (in)famous today. So please allow my braggadocio, as it was my 15 minutes of fame.

I did make the audio files, and did release them as a podcast, and made them available for download too. I hosted these files on my server from 2007 until 2011 or so, when I sort of took a hiatus from the linux community.

Anyway, the book is awesome, and you should read it if you haven’t. Yesterday I generated new festival audio files for the book and put them on my gopher sites; download and enjoy if you wish.