All the way back in 1999, when the Internet was still practically fields, the Digital Village, a media company co-founded by Douglas Adams, started a website, h2g2.com, intended to be the Earth Edition of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This collaboratively produced Guide would cover all the aspects of life, the universe and everything that members of the h2g2 community, ordinary users of the Internet, thought worth writing about. Today, that Guide consists of well over 10,000 individual entries. And counting.
In 2001, h2g2.com was taken over by the BBC, but in 2011 it went up for sale again. A partnership between the h2g2 community, Robbie Stamp (one of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie producers and another co-founder of the Digital Village) and Aly and Brian Larholm of Noesis Systems came together and acquired the site.
It was during discussions about the future of the rejuvenated site that the idea of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Foundation presented itself. Why not, all parties agreed, go that little bit further and use the opportunity to set up a charity to continue Douglas’ legacy as a man who was not only an inspired writer, but a writer who inspired others to write, to communicate their ideas, to have ideas.
And Douglas’ family thought this was a neat idea too.
As a result, two of Douglas’ family sit on the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Foundation’s Board of Trustees. The Foundation also owns a non-dilutable share in Not Panicking Limited, which in turn owns h2g2.com. When there are any, 4.2% of the profits of Not Panicking Ltd will be given to the Foundation although the Foundation will also raise funds in its own right. In addition, the h2g2 community organisation, Field Researcher’s Ltd, provides one of the Hitchhiker Foundation’s Trustees.
As Douglas Adams himself said about the beginnings of h2g2.com, ‘We have the first snowflake. Now let’s build a blizzard.’