Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Open sourcing Text Books! and the future of Human Kind?

We've all seen the computer industry fight it out with the big corporations such as Microsoft (the most famous that comes to everyone's mind) to make software freely available to everyone. The Open source community is not against people making money from their efforts. It is very much for it, but what it preaches is for the source of the creation to be public and freely available for anyone to modify. Well, all this works for something like software but for TEXT BOOKS!?

I came across this thread on slashdot where an author of a popular text book was initially happy about making money in the form of royalty but became very frustrated by the fact that the publisher hiked the price of the book when it gained popularity and became THE choice of the students of that subject. He felt very bad at this dramatic price hike every year although he was happy because he considers what the students earned from it was worth it.

If everything is copyrighted and kept writing a confined limit, then we as a race would not progress much. There needs to be a revolution of sorts to change this attitude of content creators and they need to start thinking like this author did. Text books are a source of knowledge and this knowledge will help humanity achieve greater heights. And whatever knowledge is attained by one's experience needs to be shared for the common good, don't you think?

Revolution

I imagine a world where every child born will be born with knowledge of the things that its parents have already learnt, like language, experiences, mistakes that they've made and the learning that they got from those mistakes. This way the baby doesn't have to start from scratch. It shouldn't have to learn A...B...C... again. it shouldn't need to go to school and college to learn the things its parents had learnt already spending their entire life. All that time spent by its parents need not die along with them.

Yes, I understand that this thought is out of the world. You may consider me to be a moron to have such thoughts and some of you might also have ethical issues with such things, but all these issues are secondary and we can sort it out with a proper system and proper guidelines, but we need to start somewhere. Think about it... a baby, born already with the knowledge of its parents, can spend its childhood learning a lot more advanced technologies and you know what, it might even grow up to discover a way to time travel or traverse the universe like we commute to work today. The key behind all this would be the incremental knowledge from generation to generation. No knowledge dies with a single generation. Think of what heights the human race can achieve. Think of the problems of illiteracy, poverty, health etc that it would solve. WOW!

And at the end of reading this, you may wonder how is this relating to open-sourcing text books. Well, that would the stepping-stone to such a revolutionary approach. The first step in making knowledge freely available to everyone would make the know-hows of each generation exponentially higher hence making us the only and the most intelligent species in this universe to have performed humongous feats and achieved great heights.

Put in your thoughts, even the critical ones... Looking forward to it, so that I can gauge the response of the general population on this concept. Keeping my fingers crossed for you guys to, if not accept it, at least acknowledge the fact that it is possible.