Tag Archives: Open source

Learning in the Open

Here’s a piece I wrote for the WSJ on open source education resources. It’s part of the free section of WSJ.com.

A revolution of sorts is sweeping education.

In the past few years, educational material, from handwritten lecture notes to whole courses, has been made available online, free for anyone who wants it. Backed by big-name universities in the U.S., China, Japan and Europe, the Open Education Resources movement is gaining ground, providing access to knowledge so that no one is “walled in by money, race and other issues,” says Lucifer Chu, a 32-year-old Taiwanese citizen and among the thousands world-wide promoting the effort. He says he has used about half a million dollars from his translation of the “Lord of the Rings” novels into Chinese to translate engineering, math and other educational material, also from English into Chinese.

The movement started in the late 1990s, inspired in part by the “open source” software movement, based on the notion computer programs should be free. Open-source software now powers more than half the world’s servers and about 18% of its browsers, according to TheCounter.com, a Web-analysis service by Connecticut-based Internet publisher Jupitermedia Corp. Behind its success are copyright licenses that allow users to use, change and then redistribute the software. Another inspiration was the proliferation of Web sites where millions share photos or write encyclopedia entries.

Free Online College Courses Are Proliferating – WSJ.com

Novel Writing Online, And A Cartoonist Goes POD

Couple of interesting developments in the publishing world: first off, Techno-literary Blogger Writing Open Source Novel, which is pretty much self explanatory:

J Wynia, a web consultant, writer and geek is writing an open source novel called “Inheritance” and documenting the process on his web site as part of National Novel Writing Month. The event itself has participants writing a 50,000 word (approx 175 pages) novel during the month of November. Participation has grown from 21 people in 1999 to approximately 60,000 this year. J is using this year’s program as a platform for experimenting in alternatives to the traditional publishing methods for fiction using Creative Commons licensing, web publishing and print on demand publishing.

“The current model of book publishing is outdated. The more and more I thought about a system where writers are convinced by lottery-like promises of multi-million copy bestsellers, to beg and plead with New York publishing houses for approval, and the average author makes less money for the effort than the average convenience store clerk, I was convinced that there’s got to be a better way,” says J.

Hear, hear (PS, anyone interested in a book on a now obscure Southeast Asian expresident?).

Then there’s more movement in the growing print on demand world, with the first woman ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartoons, who has become the first top-rank cartoonist to publish a print-on-demand compilation of her work. Signe Wilkinson’s cartoons are syndicated to newspapers by the Washington Post Writers Group. They are available at multiple sites online including her own site, http://www.signetoons.com, and as part of the Cartoonist Group, http://www.cartoonistgroup.com. “One Nation, Under Surveillance” is published by the Cartoonist Group and is available through www.Lulu.com and many bookstores.