I have a dream. I envision a world with:
1)Kindles or computers for everyone, with access to Everything, throughout the world, by right. A global digital library, that, in addition to text, includes audio and video. I have in mind something like the internet, PLUS the entire Library of Congress, and all the music and movies available. They could be powered/charged in poor countries by bicycle-generators, or whatever.
2)Letters and words are everyone’s property, and ideas happen by way of creativity, memes, AND mind presence/control (i.e. dreams, being in other’s heads…words, images, telepathy); THUSLY, all ideas are everyone’s by right, and freely available for reading, use and alteration, in any way.
3) A.I. and computers might be able to create books like ‘AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) zymurgy: A book using every word in the english language’ (or even the world). We could program creativity into computers, just like the background images that take up computer screens when music plays, or whatever. Or imagine a theoretical dictionary with every conceivable word in it, as another example. That might be fun for creating silly definitions.
4)Everything in all languages: People could get paid to translate anything into anything else. War and Peace into Klingon, or whatever. Unless computers can do that. I bet they can.
5)Actual paper books are an invaluable resource, and the tactile experience of actual paper seems to be a far more effective experience of enjoyment and information transfer, for a lot (most?) of us. I would like to universalize the physical library experience as well.
-Currently, where I live (Calistoga), I have access to the local library PLUS I can order books from the SNAP (Solano, Napa and Partners Library Consortium), which includes 17 libraries. The encyclopedia Britannica is available through their site, online (for cardholding residents). There is also a bookstore in town. The libraries have their own budgets with which to buy books, selected by requests from the Friends of the Library and the particular taste of whichever librarian is given the charge of book selection/purchase. The government is in effect buying books for the public. The library gets a discounted rate. To save money, I propose the library should post online (and I imagine at the library as well) all the books it wants, for Friends of the Library (who could be sent emails) to consider for purchase (say, from the bookstore a few doors down from the library) and donation. Since library patrons can choose from the web of libraries offering from their cumulative inventory, libraries should cooperate between each other to avoid over-supplying some books, to the neglect of others. Supply must meet demand. I would add this rule, as well: Libraries should exceed simply supplying books that make it to the main Best-Seller lists (like the NYX) by as much as possible. To this end, I say make libraries big. The more books, the merrier! I loved walking the stacks at UCD, and the Main Library (public) in Sacramento. But that’s just me. When a book is in high demand, and waiting lists rise, people who have purchased and finished with the book should be aware of how they can be good citizens, somehow. Maybe bookstores could print on their receipts the Friends of the Library’s phone number or something. The bookstore computer could be programmed to assist the flow of in-demand and newly purchased books to the hungry library public/patrons. I’ll conclude with a question and a belief: Can an actual paper-book be simulated in a virtual environment? (Then again, libraries can be a part of the matrix).
6) The OCW movement seems like it is in it’s infancy, to me. I imagine students of the future truly being able to follow their bliss. People will make the most money if they’re passionate about and having fun with what they’re doing, so school, instead of slogging through, say, algebra that isn’t presented as being relevant to anything in the real world that they can see themselves doing, should allow curiosity to go wherever it leads. OCW stands for open courseware, and it’s great- a student can watch or listen to lectures and email the professor for free (but without tests or credit), and sometimes even get access to the course readings, online. What if all the language tutorials were available online, for free? I think there’s a great site that can teach any style of guitar playing online, that way. Literature courses, naturally, would mesh perfectly with an internet that provides Absolutely Everything In Our Universe (aeiou). Kids could generate lists of questions every night, and then research the answers…or ask (online?) teachers by day. I like home-schooling. I feel like a lot of my education was not where my interests were. I would have liked more freedom, I think.
7) Practically speaking, right now, College texts should be available on readers like the kindle, to cut costs for students. Or online.
8)Going back to number 1, I really mean everyone. Prisoners in jail or prison would really benefit from having books available to civilize and edify and distract them from the rougher crowd. The devices could be specially constructed for sturdiness, unhackability, etc. and could provide healthy, positive instruction. As it is now, prisoners have to buy each book new and have it sent from the publisher to the facility, so no messages, drugs, weapons, tools, etc. can make their way inside. The machines could be tailored to each prisoner, perhaps.
11 hours ago