Peter Brantley of the Internet Archive, who hosts the annual Books in Browsers conference, published a lovely reflection on the Bookserver project over at Publisher’s Weekly. He notes the ongoing debate about centralized aggregation (the global digital library model) vs. distribution of local silos of books (the traditional physical library model), noting the ways in which bookservers that support syndication and syncing have a foot in both worlds.
“The SheevaPlug Bookserver gets books closest to those who will use them. In areas with minimal networking, or where privacy matters, and the choice of reading materials may have immediate ramifications for liberty and survival, there are compelling reasons to get libraries down to the smallest, socially cohesive level. In many parts of the world that would be a village; in other societies, individualism makes the notion of walking around with all the books in the world in a single handheld device the ultimate distributed library.”
The whole article is worth reading.
What a great meeting of 14 minds on Friday, March 11 at 6PM at OLPC office, One Cambridge Center (right above the Kendall/MIT Red-Line Stop), facing OLPC’s most serious challenges.
- eBooks on Sugar Realities (New Read 89)
- olpcMAP Jams: Los Angeles, Philippines, and each OLPC/Sugar CITY that will follow in March/April (Paris, then French Africa, etc!)
- West Somerville eToys training by Solution Grove
- Uruguay Summit May 5-7
- Intel/Computer Clubhouse’s new global mentoring network (“starting soon right here in town”)
One of the topics was about using eToys or Scratch to engage older kids and/or adults with programming. Nick Doiron summarized some ideas on this topic for the group:
There are a lot of ideas out there about how to do intro-to-programming and I like what people have done with eToys at the primary school level (if you haven’t seen Waveplace’s experiences in Haiti, read about them online! )
As you target middle school level students or above, they’re interested in the internet and media. Some are interested in technical details – ask any programmer you know when they started. You can make a high school kid an expert in eToys, but they won’t be any closer to making their own website or Space Invaders game. If you would give someone a power tool in shop class, you should give them a real programming language on the computer.
Mozilla’s Hackasaurus program is designed for learning HTML at this level. Two amazing workshops in the past month:
They have information about setting up your own workshop at hackasaurus.org. Also, check out http://palpable-video.appspot.com/sample
This meeting had tremendous value for all participants as it presented an opportunity to connect to people who are interested in similar edu-tech ideas.
I’m at the Open Content Alliance‘s annual meeting, this year about Books in Browsers, hosted at the Internet Archive in SF. It’s an encouraging gathering, with a lot of the technical and social implementations lining up as people give their short presentations.
I spoke yesterday about the olpc use case of rural and offline schools (you can find my slides online on the OLPC wiki), where bookreaders and the books they can find are often all that students have in the way of a regional library. Others in the audience added that there is also often no historical division between receiving stories and creating your own, or a tradition of ‘received knowledge’ that publishers have decided is worth distributing.
A few wonderful bits of news: the Internet Archive’s bookreader, which is one of the best browser-based readers around, now works with touchscreen input (NTS: get them a 1.75 model once they’re available!; some of their sliders are too small/close to the screen edges for the XO bezel). Mary Lou brought a new Pixel Qi screen with her from Taiwan (she and John will both be @ SFSU tomorrow). And a lot of people in attendance (including many people who are building the next gen of bookreader) are working on one of the core ideas of modern collaboration — that everyone is both reader and author at different times.
My favorite quote from the event so far: “Before the writer was ‘author’, before the invention of [literary] ‘genius’, artists simply transmitted culture that preexisted: spongs, dances, text, stories, poems that didn’t ‘belong’ to anyone. And their skill was the skill to transmit, not of invention, and attributable to a [muse], not to personal genius.”
I hope to see some of you tonight at 5pm at the opening party for the community summit!
Their new Open Library OLPC bookreader is lovely, and has been tweaked to recognize the XO’s gamepad keys for navigation, and to display in both normal and rotated screen modes. Many thanks to Anand and Aaron Swartz for making this work. Web whiz Rebecca Malamud worked up a lovely portal for children, customized to display well on the XO, and Aaron helped make sure the first demo library bundle of OpenLibrary books is available for testing.
With this work, the 1.1 million public domain books of the Open Library are available, OCR’ed text and all, to everyone with an XO and an internet connection. Now we are working on making them work better offline, for children whose primary connection to the Internet’s archives is through a friend with a USB key who visits from time to time.
I hope that we can come up with an awesome collection of reading lists for children, and a scripted way to turn a reading list into a bookshelf available for reading online (via Rebecca’s portal) or offline (zipped up as an XO library bundle) for Gen XO.