This free Information Age Education Newsletter is written by David
Moursund and produced by Ken Loge. For more information, see the end of
A Kindle is an e-book sold by Amazon.com. My wife purchased a Kindle 1
when they first became available. More recently, she bought a Kindle 2
and gave it to me. My Kindle 2 arrived with some books already on it,
since my wife purchased it in her name and the books she had purchased
for her Kindle 1 were available free on her new Kindle 2. Thus, I
received a free copy of the 15 Wizard of Oz books that she had
purchased for 95 cents.
That’s right—95 cents for the complete
collection. These books are out of copyright. Volunteers working for
Amazon and entrepreneurs working for themselves scan such books and put
them into Kindle format. There are many books and other materials
available at quite low prices (including free) available for the
I tend to read almost anything that comes my way. Thus, I started
reading the Oz books. The last book in the series, Glinda of Oz, was
published in 1920, the year after L. Frank Baum died. The following
paragraph caught my eye:
[Glinda's Great Book of Records] is
one of the greatest treasures in Oz, and the Sorceress prizes it more
highly than any of her magical possessions. This is the reason it is
firmly attached to the big marble table by means of golden chains, and
whenever Glinda leavers home she locks the Great Book together with
five jeweled padlocks, and carries the keys safely hidden in her bosom.
I do not suppose that there is any magical thing in any fairyland to
compare with the Record Book, on the pages of which are constantly
being printed a record of every event that happens in any part of the
world, at exactly the moment it happens.
Notice that Glinda
kept this book chained to a desk. That reminds me of the chained
libraries of the Middle Ages up through the 1700s. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chained_library
.) Books were so valuable and expensive that in many libraries each book was attached to the shelf by a chain.
Looking at More Current
During World War II, Vannevar Bush served as Director of the United
States Office of Scientific Research and Development. In 1945 he wrote
an article titled As We May Think that was published in the Atlantic
Monthly. (See http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/194507/bush
.) Quoting from that article:
a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized
private file and library. It needs a name, and, to coin one at random,
"memex" will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all
his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that
it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an
enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.
It consists of a
desk, and while it can presumably be operated from a distance, it is
primarily the piece of furniture at which he works. On the top are
slanting translucent screens, on which material can be projected for
convenient reading. There is a keyboard, and sets of buttons and
levers. Otherwise it looks like an ordinary desk.
When I was
reading about Glinda's Great Book of Records, I was struck by the
similarities between it, Vannevar Bush’s Memex, and our current World
Wide Web. A full-feature modern cell phone has many of the features of
Glinda's Great Book of Records and essentially all of the features of
Vannevar Bush’s Memex. Moreover, the chains and the desk have been
removed, so that now many millions of people walk around with such
facilities in hand.
Looking into the
You realize, of course, that free public libraries, the US Library of
Congress, and the virtual library we call the Web are not really free.
The library at my university (the University of Oregon) has a budget of
nearly $20 million a year, and the US Library of Congress has an annual
budget of well over $600 million a year. Moreover, someone has to pay
for the connectivity devices, storage facilities, and networks.
Kindle 2, my laptop, and my desktop computer provide me with relatively
inexpensive access to a huge and rapidly growing collection of data,
information, and knowledge.
It is not all available free.
However, our K-20 educational systems are making a large amount of the
traditional hard copy library materials and the virtual library
materials available to students at no direct cost to the students.
think about the progress that has occurred since L. Frank Baum’s
innovative idea published in 1920. Then think about the continuing
rapid pace of growth in the Web, improvements in access to the Web, and
improvements in aids to making use of humankind’s collected data,
information, and knowledge.
We have come a long way in short
period of time. A good modern education prepares students to make
effective use of current resources and prepares them to learn to make
use of the resources that we expect will be available in their futures.
Every parent, teacher, and child caregiver can contribute to this
About Information Age
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museum located in Eugene, Oregon. Current IAE activities include a Wiki
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