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Learning is just about to get a whole lot easier

More than any other, the belief that has served me best is the one that whispers in my ear whenever I doubt myself:  'If just one person can do this, so can you.. it's just a matter of finding out how'.  If believing this has meant that I've been misguided and ended up in trouble from time to time, then so be it..  life would be nowhere near as much fun without it.

And therein, at least to me, lies the magic of books.  If we look back across the history of our civilisations we see that virtually anyone who has discovered anything significant has written about it.  For sure, we have a tendency to let Chinese whispers and our own motivations distort truth, but even our distortions are usually documented somewhere.  For many like me, books help solve the  '..finding..'  part.  Long live books.

And so today I came across something new and quite amazing, a web based project called  Open Library.  This if from their 'about' page:

What if there was a library which held every book?  Not every book on sale, or every important book, or even every book in English, but simply every book—a key part of our planet's cultural legacy. 

First, the library must be on the Internet.  No physical space could be as big or as universally accessible as a public web site.  The site would be like Wikipedia—a public resource that anyone in any country could access and that others could rework into different formats. 

Second, it must be grandly comprehensive.  It would take catalog entries from every library and publisher and random Internet user who is willing to donate them.  It would link to places where each book could be bought, borrowed, or downloaded.  It would collect reviews and references and discussions and every other piece of data about the book it could get its hands on. 

But most importantly, such a library must be fully open.  Not simply  "free to the people,"  as the grand banner across the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh proclaims, but a product of the people:  letting them create and curate its catalog, contribute to its content, participate in its governance, and have full, free access to its data.  In an era where library data and Internet databases are being run by money-seeking companies behind closed doors, it's more important than ever to be open. 

So let us do just that:  let us build the Open Library."

Wow..  what a crazy but wonderful idea!   

Congratulations to  Aaron Swartz (co-founder of Reddit) and  the team  for a great start on a project that looks really worthwhile.  I get the feeling that this will be BIG.. and deservedly so.

BTW, if you're interested in technical design like me, take a look at the  architecture, particularly the  database schema  (beautifully simple, powerful and flexible), and also the way that the  wiki front end is customisable  to suit the nature of whatever content is displayed.. this in itself is a big advance in the usefulness of wikis. 

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  • ..this blog stems from a recognition that our true nature is far more creative, loving and unlimited than we could possibly imagine... and it transforms everything... a practical, generic solution to all our problems.

    These are just my lesson notes as I try to  be true to that recognition... and  learn to fly.  So it's quite possible that everything here may be wrong.

    Thank you for visiting.  Email (to Nick Smith) is always welcome.

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