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vitamin pills
invention of internet
johannes gutenberg
ebook readers
third world country
size storage
history of mankind
ocean of knowledge
storage units
press today
Distributing EReaders Like Vitamin Pills
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Johannes Gutenberg's Legacy

Jonannes Gutenberg’s invention of printing press in around 1439 was one of the milestones of Renaissance and even for today’s knowledge-based society.

Can we expect the same fundamental change from eBooks today? I believe it is worth thinking about. First we have to admit that eBook is not a revolution as it was the case with Gutenberg’s printing press. Today’s eBook is one of many products of the digital revolution in the last, say, twenty years. When I talk about digital revolution I mean, compression, storage and transferability of data. Without doubt, all these elements make sense thanks to the invention of internet. Internet itself is comparable to the printing press. With our Nano-size storage units and devices boosted by online connection almost around the globe, we are capable of sharing and distributing information like never before in the history of mankind.

Fighting Against Illeteracy

We can use eBooks to fight illiteracy and to sail hundreds of millions in the developing world to the ocean of knowledge. The infrastructure for this is already in place. Internet access is the basis for reading eBooks. Using a standard and widespread software like PDF would enable masses to read eBooks with no need for a reader. Or alternatively, UNICEF, can coordinate and sponsor the production of very cheap, solar powered eBook readers for regions with no reliable internet connection.

eBooks Without Internet

Probably, the real difference of eBooks begins where internet ends. For more remote regions with not at all or no reliable internet access, we can distribute solar powered, cheap eReaders with tons of educational content. By doing so, we can save tens of thousands of precious trees and contribute to the fight against global warming. Distributing eBooks raise not only technical challenges, but also political questions: Who would approve the content of eBooks to be distributed? Would a third world country be willing to intervene in the content with regard to this county’s history? Even distributing scientific information and knowledge could hit some barriers. The spreading of internet and digital revolution has the potential of uniformizing the culture and boost the dominance of English. English is the universal language of communication and will only be stronger in the coming years.

eBooks for the Masses

Would the illiterate masses read their eBooks when they are of their own? How could we motivate those people to read while they are struggling to survive? Maybe, the answer is more easily “chewable” text: Short, simple sentences in large size fonts. If this is not good enough, we should create fun to read and easy text with real-life solutions. At first look, it is difficult to imagine a poor Indian farmer boy without shoes but with an eBook. But with some imagination and dedication, this goal is achievable. Imagine this Indian farmer boy shows some useful agricultural tips from his of her eReader to his father. Let the wisdom of digitally packed knowledge flow into the minds of millions. Let’s start the change for a better world.


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