×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Internet Archive Puts 1.6M E-Books On OLPC Laptops

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the and-not-just-one-to-a-customer dept.

Education 106

waderoush writes "Brewster Kahle of the San Francisco-based Internet Archive announced today that all 1.6 million books scanned and digitized by the Archive will be available for reading on XO laptops built by the Cambridge, MA-based One Laptop Per Child Foundation. The announcement came during a session on electronic books and electronic publishing at the Boston Book Festival. Kahle said the Archive has been collaborating with OLPC for a year to format the e-books for display on the XO laptops, some 750,000 of which are in use by children in developing countries."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

106 comments

Nice try, but one hard-core fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29860125)

You will still be reading it on a back-lit screen.

Re:Nice try, but one hard-core fail (2, Interesting)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860289)

Doesn't the OLPC have a B&W passive mode on it's display... the first version did.

Re:Nice try, but one hard-core fail (5, Informative)

unmadindu (524636) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860363)

Both versions of the XO laptop (1.5 as well as 1) have dual mode screens (the backlight can be turned off to enable reflective mode).

Re:Nice try, but one hard-core fail (2, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860535)

You are probably just trolling; but that is completely wrong. One of the main distinguishing features of the XO-1 is its dual mode screen. You can either run with the backlight on, and get color and visibility in the dark, or you can run with the backlight off, and get a high-resolution reflective LCD that is the next best thing to e-ink for reading(along with having LCD level refresh rates and slightly nicer contrast ratio). If you run the backlight at low brightness, you can even get a bit of both, mostly reflective black and white; but with some hints of color.

I have an XO-1, and the screen is frankly the most interesting part for me. The industrial design is very good, for its intended purpose, but I'm not really its intended purpose, so that is a bit of a mixed blessing; but the screen is, for the moment, simply unique among available devices.

Re:Nice try, but one hard-core fail (3, Interesting)

soupforare (542403) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860975)

If you switch to Teapot's ubuntu release, there's a hotkey to drop down to high dpi B&W mode, even with backlight full on. It's pretty great.
I'm extremely pleased with mine running like this. FBreader(?) works very well for ebook duties. I wish the screen was available on other machines, it's really great tech.
I do like the keyboard tech as well, but it's not as standout as the screen, I think.

This is great. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29860181)

I really feel if the third worlds would use these to learn more about agriculture and even different philosophies they stand a chance at becoming civilized. I might be overly optimistic, but I feel this is a good start.

Re:This is great. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29860561)

Being niggers, they'll probably just learn new ways to kill each other and how to spend money on stupid shit like grills, tattoos, baggy pants, and bling.

A YEAR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29860191)

It takes a year to get some books to display right?

Re:A YEAR (2, Informative)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860357)

No... it takes a year to perform optical character recognition on 1.6 Million Books so that they they only require a few kilobytes to be transmitted and stored rather than several megabytes.

It's the thought that counts and all... (1)

Taur0 (1634625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860221)

but if they /really/ cared for the poor children and their eyes, they would get them nooks.

Re:It's the thought that counts and all... (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860737)

and teach them all English...and get them glasses...and make sure they weren't too hungry

Re:It's the thought that counts and all... (2, Informative)

H3g3m0n (642800) | more than 3 years ago | (#29862585)

Actually giving them the computers might be enough to teach them English. There was the Hole in a Wall project where they dumped a computer on a Indian village and just left it there in a public place. When they came back the children had all learned English.

Re:It's the thought that counts and all... (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 3 years ago | (#29866141)

Actually, the common story I'm aware of is that the children used a combination of Hindi words and others from their local dialects to describe things like the cursor, as they'd had no English instruction on computer terms.

Given that English is one of India's official languages - I find the opposite claim that you can take children with no English, some of whom would be used to a non-Roman alphabet, give them a computer, and collectively, they've spontaneously learned English - incredible, to say the least.

Re:It's the thought that counts and all... (1)

MukiMuki (692124) | more than 3 years ago | (#29861933)

Well remember, the OLPC is using a precursor to the PixelQi screen tech, so the display quality is probably surprisingly comparable to e-Ink (in black/white mode).

One laptop (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29860267)

...per nigger.

Re:One laptop (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29860433)

Pretty much this. Can they even read?

Re:One laptop (4, Insightful)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860591)

I just love how we in developed nations assume that those in the 3rd world are stupid. Actually, those who have had access to decent schools are quite likely smarter than you simply due to motivation. This has been proven time after time as students from developing nations visit our Universities and as a whole out perform our students by a tremendous margin, even with the cultural, language, and social barriers that they must overcome.

Re:One laptop (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860631)

Why respond seriously to such blatantly obvious trolls?

Re:One laptop (1, Interesting)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860735)

Good question. His ignorant comment and the fact that I didn't have any Mod points left me no choice?

I guess I just get tired of ignorant, raciest, bigoted, and hateful people and hope that maybe, just maybe, a reply will convince them to actually reconsider their beliefs.

And no... I am not holding my breath.

Re:One laptop (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#29860993)

When access is very limited, the best get in. Let's not consider those representative of the rest who maintain their hellholes of origin as perpetual disasters which are the reason the gifted who can afford it run for the West in the first place!

Once the floodgates open, we get a broader spectrum of immigrants including the very backward.

Re:One laptop (2, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#29861051)

Immigrants from some countries do typically perform above average in American universities, but generally only those from countries where the immigration distribution is skewed towards the better-educated upper-class of that country, as with those who come to the U.S. from India, China, and parts of Africa. In cases where we get a different socioeconomic skew, like with Mexican immigrants, the same patterns of overachievement aren't borne out.

Re:One laptop (1)

jhfry (829244) | more than 3 years ago | (#29861621)

If you reread my comment... I actually qualified my statement with "those who have had access to decent schools."

What I am suggesting is that the GGP's ignorant statement "can they even read?" was ignorant due to it's assumption that a third world country wouldn't benefit from this program because they must all be illiterate.

I suppose I should have mentioned that availability of a variety of reading materials has always led to increased literacy within a population where education and literacy is valued. Put as many libraries you want here in Detroit, and I doubt there will be more literacy, but put them in most 3rd world countries, and people will learn to read if they have the time.

Re:One laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29861215)

I don't call people stupid, just chiming in, but in case you hadn't thought of it there's a built-in motivation to do well with a student visa. Becuase if they fail to perform, they are sent back. They have an incentive unlike a lot of students who are just paying for school and sometimes don't even have to earn the money themselves. Plus, the immigratns that end up getting these student visas are generally achievers to begin with. So the pool is of smarter people.

Re:One laptop (2, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#29861283)

Nah, it's a flawed comparison from a self-selecting sample. You never see the kids that drop out or are too stupid to do anything but become the local witch-burner. By definition, you only see the talented ones.

Assuming other cultures are stupid is quite natural - just look at how developed urban populations despise rural people. The disgust is quite open and appears in the popular media daily.

Re:One laptop (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#29861569)

I just love how we in developed nations assume that those in the 3rd world are stupid.

The nineteenth and early twentieth century American student was not stupid.

But only a fraction would have the opportunity to go on to high school or formal vocational training.

OLPC's original mission was outreach to the poorest of schools and the youngest and most isolated of children and their families.

There is no point to loading the XO with an enormous - essentially random - collection of books these kids and their parents cannot read.

 

Re:One laptop (1)

jhfry (829244) | more than 3 years ago | (#29861701)

I addressed the availability of "decent schools" in my post... and to suggest that providing access to a variety of reading material is pointless is just false.

I don't care how poor and isolated a person is, if there is a desire to learn, someone with the skill to teach, and books to be read, and time, then literacy will increase. And once literacy is established, the most important thing is access to a wealth of materials to read.

Years ago it was uncommon for even wealthy families to have access to more than a few books, this includes borrowing from family and friends. As publishing technology made books more readily available, literacy increased. The more literate the population, the more that having a large variety of books became valuable.

So essentially, yes there may be issues where many of the recipients of an OLPC cannot read the books initially. But lets say they learn, with help of a teacher, their peers, and their OLPC. As they gain skill, don't you think being able to research and study various fields of interest is a good thing.

Essentially, suggesting that this is a wasted effort is like suggesting that supporting your local library is stupid because only a small part of your community actually uses it.

Re:One laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29862645)

let me give you a hint, retard. It's pretty easy to learn to read if you can read a little and have books. By the way, I've worked in a lot of east Africa, and yet to find a place where there were no english speakers, and had absolutely no privacy when speaking Spanish. Why am I feeding a troll?

Aha! (1)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860287)

This must be why the Internet Archive is almost two years behind on indexing archived files instead of the usual 6 months to one year.

XO Design question (1)

Britz (170620) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860347)

I still wonder why they didn't build the first XO on the ARM architecture. I only researched via Wikipedia. What I found out was that the processor they used was based on the an old line of AMD (before the Athlon came out) x86 processors. AFAIR AMD x86 processors were inferior to Intel 486 processors.
So why use such an ancient design instead of a modern day ARM. It would have extended the battery life.

I think they now changed it to the ARM.

Is there anyone here on /. that can explain why they used the x86 on the first version? While I certainly am not qualified to say wether that desing decision was good or bad I can definitely say that the XO fell way short of their goal to become a widely used education tool in many countries. Which is sad, because I think it was a great idea and in many ways a very good design.

I am also not qualified to say why the XO failed in that respect, but I believe it was more politics than either good or bad design that was the major factor behind that failure. And including a major company (like AMD) could be good politics sometimes...

Re:XO Design question (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860441)

Because x86 makes people think "real laptop" rather than "embedded system" is my guess. Plus I'm sure they thought about marketing it in the first world where running Windows is a must. Also I'm not sure if ARM was more powerful than the Geode at the time, either way the logical x86 chip to use (Intel Atom) won't be used due to politics I'm sure so ARM is the only natural CPU.

Re:XO Design question (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 3 years ago | (#29867863)

"Normal" people never think "embedded system" only geeks and design engineers do. Normal people think, "What a cool gadget", "It's too expensive/purple/big/small etc.", or exactly what the sales drone has told them (right or wrong).

Re:XO Design question (2, Informative)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860505)

You do realize that x86 is a processor instruction set... it has been used by Intel, AMD, Cyrix, and many others. It is the instruction set that was first created by Intel with the 8086 processor and based upon other large instruction sets that proceeded it.

I suspect that they chose and x86 processor because there wasn't an ARM processor that was powerful enough to meet their needs. Even today, there isn't an ARM processor that can match even low end x86 processors from Intel or AMD. They are however very low power and pack tremendous performance/watt. Coupled with a good GPU that can be used for things like video decoding, ARM systems are finally becoming competitive for general computing tasks.

There are a number of reasons that the XO didn't take off... few of them were due to hardware decisions. Actually, the XO had some amazing hardware for the time. Unfortunately XO created a market for people wanting small low power portable computers and the netbook craze was started, which caused a huge drop in the prices making the $150 XO seem less appealing. I suspect that if they had just slapped a slightly modified Ubuntu on there as soon as the hardware was ready and started marketing it, they would have had a winner. But they spent months perfecting it, while others developed products that would compete with the XO.

Of course, the XO was never intended to be a hardware platform; it was a hardware/software platform that shipped with its own ideology about how it's users would interact with the computer and each other. Essentially it was as much a research project as it was a product.

MS? (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 3 years ago | (#29865211)

If they got infested by MS as people claim, ARM is an excellent low power processor with one issue: It can't run Windows ;)

Re:XO Design question (2, Interesting)

Jecel Assumpcao Jr (5602) | more than 3 years ago | (#29865383)

The official reason why the ARM wasn't used was that none of the many available models had decent floating point when the OLPC project was started. Unfortunately, the Geode's floating point performance turned out to be less than what was hoped. Unofficially, I imagine that the fact that AMD was one of the four initial sponsors of the OLPC biased the choice towards their product, just like having Red Hat as one of the other sponsors led to the Fedora based software (in contrast to using some already stripped down Linux distribution).

Things have changed since 2005, including the decision by AMD to discontinue the Geode (which they had bought from National, who had bought the creator Cyrix). The decision to use the x86 compatible Via processors for the XO 1.5 greatly reduced the software effort, which is very important given their current limited staff.

I am a huge fan of the ARM (I think I was the first one in the world outside of Acorn itself to use this processor in a project) but back in 2005 my suggestion for OLPC was that they should do their own custom chip using two Leon 3 (Sparc) cores. I still think it would have been a good idea.

How will this fit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29860411)

Doesn't the OLPC only have 1GB storage? In order for 1.6million books to fit onto a 1GB card, they'd have to take up less than 1KB a piece.

what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29860445)

what are 1.6M ebooks and do i need codec?? (post humously for obvious reason!)

Er... (1)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860473)

Are these books mostly written in English? And the OLPC is mainly used in developing countries? I think I see a problem here...

Re:Er... (3, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860547)

Although there's not much that can be done about it due to copyright laws, the fact that they're restricted to public-domain books likely skews it even more: there's a lot of 20th-century and 21st-century African literature, for example, but much less from pre-1923.

Re:Er... (2, Interesting)

Afforess (1310263) | more than 3 years ago | (#29861095)

Not necessarily. Many African countries were not members of or don't subscribe to the Berne Convention [wikipedia.org] , so many copyrights would be Public Domain there. The few countries that do have some copyright laws lack the manpower, or political willpower to actually enforce them. A complete list of Countries Copyright laws and standards is here [wipo.int] .

Re:Er... (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#29861127)

True, but in this case they would have to be public-domain in the United States to be included, since it's a set of books being compiled by archive.org and the OLPC project, both of which have to respect US copyright law.

Re:Er... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29860687)

the only problem i see here is you being a fucking retard. these people will adopt like all other people can.

Re:Er... (1)

bschorr (1316501) | more than 3 years ago | (#29861019)

Actually it's probably good that the kids learn English and it's a fair bet that a number of them speak at least a little English already.

Americans are perhaps the most mono-lingual nation in the world. Whenever I travel abroad I'm taken aback at how easily folks in other parts of the world speak multiple languages.

In fact there are more English-speakers in China than there are in the U.S. and Canada combined. Why? Because their kids study Chinese AND English - many of them take extra classes after regular school. How many of our kids are learning to speak Chinese?

Remember that 10 years from now when Chinese is the dominant language of the Internet and the U.S. is struggling to retain our role as the dominant economic and sociopolitical power on the planet.

Re:Er... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29861091)

Remember that 10 years from now when Chinese is the dominant language of the Internet and the U.S. is struggling to retain our role as the dominant economic and sociopolitical power on the planet.

Probably won't happen. Why would they want to leave out their biggest customer?

Re:Er... (1)

MrMr (219533) | more than 3 years ago | (#29863299)

Why would they want to leave out their biggest customer?
They may decide to cut their losses when they realize the odds for getting the debts paid off.

Re:Er... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29861677)

Remember that 10 years from now when Chinese is the dominant language of the Internet

Yeah, get back to me when China manages to top the economic output of the tiny island nation to its East.

Dominant language on the internet? Please tell me you didn't actually manage to say that with a straight face.

Re:Er... (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#29863083)

when Chinese is the dominant language of the Internet and the U.S. is struggling to retain our role as the dominant economic and sociopolitical power on the planet.

If Chinese is going to become more dominant, it'll probably be because China will already have replaced the US as the dominant economic and sociopolitical power...

Re:Er... (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 3 years ago | (#29861085)

They could always use the great classic books written in Sudanese, Yemeni and Somalian, like.... well, you know, all those books.

Or they could learn English, like they do practically everywhere nowadays.

Re:Er... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29861819)

Ignorance and arrogance together. Thanks for this crisp illustration of modern times.

Re:Er... (2, Informative)

grcumb (781340) | more than 3 years ago | (#29862135)

Are these books mostly written in English? And the OLPC is mainly used in developing countries? I think I see a problem here...

In the part of the world I live in (Pacific Islands), even the least educated people speak 3 or more languages as a matter of course. Some speak 5 or 6 fluently. Visitors (and many long-term residents) are regularly the subject of ridicule because they can't learn to say more than 'hello' and 'thank you', even after months or years here.

My educated colleagues and friends have a remarkable ability to pick up language and - more importantly - to grasp the nuance of even the most abstruse language.

Geography plays a big role in this, but in many developing nations, poor infrastructure and lack of travel opportunities mean that there are often dozens of languages spoken within a given country. I can say from my own experience growing up in a bilingual milieu that if you've been speaking more than one language from birth, learning a new one is pretty much as easy as learning a new sport or the rules to a new card game.

www.tntshoes.com offer coach handbags (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29860565)

Http://www.tntshoes.com

1) Made of superior quality upper materials
2) Double customs clearance for container customers
3) Unique design and various colors and models available
4) Sizes available
5) Available in stock for prompt shipment
6) Fast delivery: 3 business days
7)fast and safety delibery by EMS, DHL, FEDEX, and so on We sell brand shoes,clothing,bags,hats,belts,watch,sunglasses,mobile phone, and so on.For the detailed informations, please go through our products website.
Please do not hesitate to contact us to know more.
Contact name: jury

OUR WEBSITE:
                                                        YAHOO:shoppertrade@yahoo.com.cn

                                                                MSN:shoppertrade@hotmail.com

What's the story? (3, Interesting)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860595)

From TFA:

Kahle says the Internet Archive books will be available through the reading "activity" on the XO Laptop. (Software on the laptop is organized into groups called activities pertaining to different types of creative and educational projects.) In an upcoming version of the XO's basic software, the reading activity will also allow students to browse books from a variety of providers, Kahle says, including libraries and commercial publishers.

He drew an explicit contrast between these approach and the more closed and controlled e-book sales models being forwarded by Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other distributors. But getting new, copyrighted books onto platforms that don't provide strict digital rights management protections is still a tricky business proposition--so for now, the book sharing arrangement between the Archive and OLPC is restricted to free, public-domain books.

While I'm all for this project - tell me again HOW those books are going to get to an OLPC-using kid's hands?

As other posters have pointed out - there's the issue of indexing this stuff properly.

And there's still distribution to think about.

http://idle.slashdot.org/story/09/09/10/0318203/Pigeon-Turns-Out-To-Be-Faster-Than-S-African-Net [slashdot.org]

Re:What's the story? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29860929)

As other posters have pointed out - there's the issue of indexing this stuff properly.

Lets just outsource the indexing to some 3rd world countries...

Re:What's the story? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 3 years ago | (#29861223)

Hey, I bet with you, that my car, full of hard disks, is also faster than an ISP.

That pigeon thing is a straw-man. There are better ways to say that there are problems. Like mentioning, I don't know, perhaps...the actual average transfer rate!! (Including outages.)

Re:What's the story? (2, Informative)

swillden (191260) | more than 3 years ago | (#29861555)

tell me again HOW those books are going to get to an OLPC-using kid's hands?

The Internet.

The standard OLPC deployment model includes a school computer with an Internet connection of some sort. If necessary, via satellite. Not a fast connection, necessarily, but even at 256 kbps you can download a lot of books. Especially when downloading 24x7.

Re:What's the story? (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 3 years ago | (#29861571)

Maybe - the use case also expected is that the teacher creates a subnet and the kids net together using non-traditional agent / peer contacts, independent of the internet as well.

Re:What's the story? (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 3 years ago | (#29862175)

Absolutely. But that doesn't help the kids get access to books that haven't already been delivered somehow. The most likely delivery technology is the Internet connection -- though I suppose the project could also ship thumb drive or two containing the whole collection.

Re:What's the story? (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 3 years ago | (#29866001)

Well, they could ship thumb drives - I hope they do, then. Otherwise, this is of limited value.

The OLPC discussions that were rife in /. in days past - before its falling out of favor - had LOTS of comments from people wanting to use these in remote areas.

For those cases, the internet just doesn't sound like the option that everyone is making it out to be.

Re:What's the story? (1)

lordlod (458156) | more than 3 years ago | (#29861891)

While I'm all for this project - tell me again HOW those books are going to get to an OLPC-using kid's hands?

As other posters have pointed out - there's the issue of indexing this stuff properly.

And there's still distribution to think about.

The standard OPLC deployment includes a school server.

The model used for reference material such as Wikipedia, text books or this is to put the material on the school server. All the XOs in the area have fast wireless access and the school server has the hard drive space to store and serve all the data.

Re:What's the story? (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 3 years ago | (#29862165)

While I'm all for this project - tell me again HOW those books are going to get to an OLPC-using kid's hands?

Internet, I'd guess.

As other posters have pointed out - there's the issue of indexing this stuff properly.

Good point. I suspect that putting them on a website and letting Google work its magic might address some - but definitely not all - of the problem. After all, the really interesting literature is often the stuff you didn't know about in the first place.

And there's still distribution to think about.

A book in plain text (or even simple XML/HTML markup) is not large at all. I'm on the board of one project that's offering Internet access over HF radio to some of the most remote islands in the Pacific, and they'd be perfectly capable of sending an entire novel as an email attachment in no more than a minute or two. Once it's reached the people at the other end of the link, it can be retransmitted using the XO's built-in wifi and self-configuring mesh networking capability.

Re:What's the story? (1)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 3 years ago | (#29863799)

I'm on the board of one project that's offering Internet access over HF radio

Dude.. I've done that before also, are you bouncing it off the ionosphere to get it there? what kind of modulation techniques are you using? phase shift keying or something else.? with the severe limitations you encounter with HF it's hard to get reliable connections over like 2400 baud. Even with the tiny download sizes of things in plaintext (and compression) 100kb files would still take ages.

Are they in English? (1)

obdulio1950 (1084823) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860629)

Are the books in English? Since the OLPC is being shipped to many countries where English is not the primary language, if they don't offer them in the local language, I doubt that this will be usefull. BTW, I'm from Uruguay, where all the students from public schools were given an XO. This is called Plan Ceibal.

Re:Are they in English? (3, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860777)

Many are, though a good deal aren't. I don't see a way to browse their texts archive [archive.org] by language (am I missing something?), but you can search by specific language in the advanced search. I can't get them to add up to anything near 1.6 million, so presumably many aren't language-tagged.

But some rough figures:

  • 354,000 - English
  • 101,000 - French
  • 99,000 - German
  • 22,000 - Italian
  • 17,000 - Spanish
  • 14,000 - Latin
  • 7,000 - Russian
  • 6,000 - Dutch
  • 4,000 - Portuguese
  • 2,000 - Polish
  • 2,000 - Arabic
  • 800 - Urdu
    400 - Swahili
  • 200 - Malay
  • 200 - Turkish
  • 200 - Tamil

Definitely a skewed distribution, but e.g. 17,000 texts in Spanish is quite a few, certainly more than most children can read!

Re:Are they in English? (1)

Acer500 (846698) | more than 3 years ago | (#29861355)

Are the books in English? Since the OLPC is being shipped to many countries where English is not the primary language, if they don't offer them in the local language, I doubt that this will be usefull. BTW, I'm from Uruguay, where all the students from public schools were given an XO. This is called Plan Ceibal.

I was going to ask the same thing (I'm from Uruguay too :) ).

You can contribute time to publish free e-books (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29860637)

I cannot help but mention the Project Gutenberg [http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page] which provide e-books for free. This is achieved by the use of volunteers who may proofread a single page (or more) a day. Everyone one can participate. There are opportunities at all levels of difficulty for proof-reading, in many languages and on many topics.

Re:You can contribute time to publish free e-books (4, Informative)

eulernet (1132389) | more than 3 years ago | (#29861751)

In fact, the proofread is done by the Distributed Proofreaders: http://www.pgdp.net/c/ [pgdp.net]

BTW, I'd like to know what is done from all the human OCR from the Recaptcha project: http://recaptcha.net/ [recaptcha.net]

Any link to the digitized books ?

Re:You can contribute time to publish free e-books (1)

Myuu (529245) | more than 3 years ago | (#29867659)

From my understanding recaptcha's source material is the NYT archives.

E-books that treat the user with respect! (2, Insightful)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 3 years ago | (#29862023)

And Project Gutenberg's e-books treat the reader with respect: no DRM, no special format hassles, wide availability, sharing-friendly (no need to fear what happens on copying, loaning, or selling your copy at a yard sale), easy to annotate, readable on every device, and available gratis (but worth money).

Many thanks to Project Gutenberg for all their hard work. Project Gutenberg sets a great example the public should keep in mind when commercial outfits offer significantly less for considerable forfeiture of your freedom and money.

Re:You can contribute time to publish free e-books (1)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 3 years ago | (#29862139)

Just as an experiment I thought I'd see what they had for science fiction. I looked for Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, Brunner and some others - all authors with many books that should be long out of copyright but surprisingly found nothing there.

Re:You can contribute time to publish free e-books (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29862261)

Copyrights last 75 years after death of the author, or something.

Re:You can contribute time to publish free e-books (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29863493)

Just as an experiment I thought I'd see what they had for science fiction. I looked for Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, Brunner and some others - all authors with many books that should be long out of copyright but surprisingly found nothing there.

If you know of any works of theirs that are definitely out of copyright, then submit them. As for science fiction, they have a whole bunch by famous authors.

Andre Norton
Poul Anderson
Robert Arthur
James Blish
Ben Bova
Marian Zimmer Bradley
John Campbell
Lester Del Rey
Philip K. Dick
Harold Goodwin
Harry Harrison
H. Beam Piper
Frederik Pohl
James H. Schmitz
Robert Silverberg
Clifford Simak
E.E. "Doc" Smith
Jules Verne
Kurt Vonnegut
H.G. Wells

All these and more at Project Gutenberg

http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Science_Fiction_%28Bookshelf%29#A

Re:You can contribute time to publish free e-books (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29864953)

Anything after the creation of Mickey Mouse is unlikely ever to have its copyright expire... at least in the US.

Re:You can contribute time to publish free e-books (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 3 years ago | (#29866109)

That's if the copyright is maintained. If it's just let lapse, or even affirmatively donated (forget the correct term) then the copyright can last for a lot shorter time period.

I've run across several works that I know were printed in the 60's or 70's at Gutenberg. (Also, anything first published outside the US is out of copyright in the US up until the US signed the Berne convention. E.g., Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.)

Note that I'm not talking about justice or fairness. Those concepts are just about orthogonal to copyright law.

Usability? (1)

Doppler00 (534739) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860841)

Yeah, that's cool you can say "it has 1,600,000 books" but how are they categorized? Is the interface for selecting and searching for books intuitive? If the laptops are targeted to a younger audience are the selected books at an appropriate reading level for the age? I mean, this is really only useful if they can create a really, really, good front end.

Re:Usability? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29863327)

appropriate reading level for the age?
OMFG!!! Nobody thought about the children!!

1.6M books (5, Insightful)

rawket.scientist (812855) | more than 4 years ago | (#29860931)

And how many of these books are in Spanish? Or French, or Farsi, or what have you? And with pictures?

I used to work in a small, poor town in the developing world. My community had a library with about 10 linear feet of shelving. All the books were in Spanish, but . . .

None of them had pictures.
The "local interest" titles were these impenetrable desk-breakers of 19th century poetry by some aristocrat from the big city.
There were only two or three fiction titles. Dante's Inferno counts, right?

I never once saw a child pick a book off that shelf, not even after an hour's wait while Mom ran an errand. There was nothing there that would appeal to a beginning reader. Hell, given the historical literacy handicaps in the region, those titles would have defeated most of the adults I knew.

If you want to encourage literacy (in the developing world or elsewhere) you've got to start small. Pictures. Rhymes and silly sounds. It takes years to get most kids up to chapter book readiness. Canterbury Tales ain't where you start!

Re:1.6M books (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29861411)

* 354,000 - English * 101,000 - French * 99,000 - German * 22,000 - Italian * 17,000 - Spanish * 14,000 - Latin * 7,000 - Russian * 6,000 - Dutch * 4,000 - Portuguese * 2,000 - Polish * 2,000 - Arabic * 800 - Urdu 400 - Swahili * 200 - Malay * 200 - Turkish * 200 - Tamil from another poster, i dont know about the pictures though.

Please do contribute works with pictures. (1)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 3 years ago | (#29862147)

May I ask what you're doing what to remedy this? It seems to me that working to fix this is more productive than only complaining about it. Are there some technical people working on a specification so people can enjoy free books with pictures in free formats?

If you want to encourage literacy (in the developing world or elsewhere) you've got to start small.

I sense you mean well, but I suggest you'd do better to convince people to help you improve the state of e-books by asking for assistance instead of telling people in what order they should donate their time to address the under-served. People need all sorts of things simultaneously, not some things in a particular order.

I was not a child who wanted "picture books", I found the pictures undermined my imagination. I did a far better job casting, clothing, and set dressing the story in my head than any illustrator. I imagine there are other children out there who don't want to be prejudiced about how things looked, just as I imagine there are kids who want pictures to go enhance the reading. We'll get to the point where more people's literary needs are met in freedom. Clearly things are heading in the right direction and with your help and experience in what you believe people want, I'm sure we'll get there faster.

Re:Please do contribute works with pictures. (1)

rawket.scientist (812855) | more than 3 years ago | (#29864071)

Ha, I know what you mean about the pictures. The movie's never quite as good as the book, and the illustrator never quite captures it, does she? And TV is better with the subtitles on. But that's how I feel now, as an adult with better reading comprehension than listening comprehension.

Generalizing here, but poor kids in the developing world are not read to on their mothers' laps. Nor are they sprawled on the carpet with the Sunday comics, or even watching Sesame Street. We in the developed world really take for granted all the pre-literacy work it takes to get a first grader reading aloud in class. For small children (and under-served adults) just acquiring literacy, a page full of text is an overwhelming, discouraging sight. Even leaving aside the contextual clues you get from the images themselves, illustrations are valuable just as a way to break the written content into manageable chunks.

I'm all for wiring the developing world. Believe me I'm *exquisitely* sensitive to how expensive per title paper media is in a developing economy. I lived high on the hog by local standards on 300 USD a month while I was there, and did all my reading out of a free library in the capital city, 8 hours away. I couldn't have afforded books and newspapers in my town, even if there had been anyone selling them.

I do mail care packages of children's books back to my old stomping grounds. And I keep an Amazon wishlist of appropriate titles so that friends and family can chip in if they want. And I sent my old laptop down there recently for a school computer lab they want to start.

OLPC and Project Gutenburg and the rest are great steps forward, and perhaps it is small-minded of me to rain on their parade. But the German aid agency (GTZ) that donated my town library's books had the best of intentions, too. It's a little late for me to get heavily involved with any of these organizations, so don't mind me as I wring my hands here and fret :)

Re:1.6M books (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#29864871)

I know that the books are in various languages. The top list has few in english. The list also seems to be at many different levels of reading.

As far as I pictures, this is not such a big issue. Glossy pictures are important in the third world especially now, because that is what kids and parents expect. They expect 4 color prints on paper. They expect Snow White to be the disney drawing. They expect binding to be neat and pages to cut. Furthermore the opportunity costs of parents creating such books are high enough that purchasing them are often a better value. Add this to the fact that the tax base is high enough to support libraries, and one has a formula to support professionally written books.

Assuming that this has to be the case is limited at best. For younger ages, reading to the child is important, and reading does not mean reading a book. The story would be one that the parent remembers or create. This is clearly the way we learn language, by having older persons speak to us. If one wants the child to be more active, then give the child something to draw with and on. This is a much more engaging activity than looking at predrawn picture. Now, once the child starts to read, then obviously accessible reading material is important, but the need for picture books is limited. In a case like this, where text is free, and the only costs is a printer, for short books one can imagine printing a book and letting the child draw their own pictrures, as one often does in a printed book, even when one is not supposed to.

Obviously I assuming a certain level of ability. In societies where comprehension is important for functionally literacy picture books for all ages do play an important role because they develop a minimal literacy skills in students who otherwise would not have those skills by encouraging reading. However, I have seen places where just a basic decoding ability is enough, where one does not have to understand the meaning of paragraphs. In these cases I would argue things like comic books are a luxury.

If is for asking... (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#29860981)

I tought in collecting around as much children books i could for that same target, there is a lot of books that enjoyed as child that are public domain by now and would be great to be easily available for all those children, but wasnt so trivial to find them in spanish.

Probably the initial target should be focus (o at least, discriminate or categorize) on books for children, and preferably in spanish (as probably is the language of the countries where has been more widely deployed so far, they are pointing to Uruguay, but i think is being deployed or tested in more countries of south america by now, and in far bigger numbers than in i.e. africa or asia).

And if well PDF is "good enough", for flexibility (as in looks as good in both screen orientations), speed for download and size that would be using in the device will be great to have most of them in HTML or another format with a good reader already included in the XO (or that could be easily included, i think there are at least one activity for it that read ePub format already)

Really? complaining about a lack of categorization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29861161)

when there is Google around?

Internet Access Assumed? (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 3 years ago | (#29861251)

How are these 1.6M books to be distributed - via Internet downloads? And the language issue raised by others is a concern as well (the 1.6M books are in a variety of languages) limiting the number of books that are useful in a given country/region... While there are many "classics" available in the public domain, how useful/timely are those fiction books to people (literally) starving for agriculture, technology, and legal resources? I'm glad these books are available to XO users, how about others? Make these files available to other ebook readers/computer users and you'll generate some real interest...

In that case, the XO needs an English teaching app (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 3 years ago | (#29861735)

Assuming that many of the the books are in English, the OLCP should have an app which teaches English; one which assumes no prior knowledge.

Well as amazing as that sounds (1)

zannox (173829) | more than 3 years ago | (#29862469)

If there really is 1 Laptop per child. AND there is at least 1 child from all 6809 known spoken languages (http://www.lsadc.org/info/pdf_files/howmany.pdf) That's just 2350 books. Gotta read the fine print.

Nay-Sayers (2, Interesting)

howlingmadhowie (943150) | more than 3 years ago | (#29862941)

Dear me, there are a lot of nay-sayers posting here. I wonder why? I can't inherently see something terrible about providing a large number of books for the world's poorest, yet the comments here would have me believe that it is hopeless, and everybody has an anecdote about why there's no point in even trying.

so why are the astroturfers out en force for this story?

anyway, i say good on the olpc project for trying to bring knowledge to the poor, the underprivileged, the down-trodden, the economically abused and the politically silenced. i still hope that we will someday look back on this project and think that it was a major stepping stone in our journey towards human rights, education and dignity for all.

Re:Nay-Sayers (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29863247)

Looks like you've been living in a fucking cave. OLPC is a Micro$oft product after Negroponte caved in. Just another vehicle to secure their product lock-in also in the very poorest of countries where Free Software would have the biggest impact. So any OLPC news you hear these days should make you very sad.

The greed! The arrogance! The pure evil!

Putting those books ON the laptops? (1, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#29863125)

Misleading headline. Even after character recognition and heavy compression, 1.6 million books are going to come out at more than 200k per book. That's .2 million MB, or 200 GB. On a normal laptop with a rotating 2.5" drive, that'd be infeasible.

The OLPC has no rotating drives [laptop.org] , but rather a 1GB solid-state chip. (Which makes sense, reducing temperature, energy usage as well as shock sensitivity.)

So they probably mean they'll be bundling some software for reading it online.

1.6M books, and nothing good to read (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29863379)

on TV

Where the F is my copy (1)

CHRONOSS2008 (1226498) | more than 3 years ago | (#29864617)

why does some poor disadvantaged african get some ebooks and im a poor disadvantaged white guy iin ht ewest who dont
yea time to screw us so they can make cash off them

The Lowest Price And Aore Product in our website (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29868117)

Welcome TO Our Website: Http://www.tntshoes.com

          we are a prefession online store, you can see more photos and price in our website which is show in the photos .
      All of our product is best quality, but the price is so cheap, we are selling all new nike shoes, t-shirt, handbag, hats ,sunglass.
    we accept paypal as payment, and give free shipping. Hoddy: CA, Artful Dooger, 5ive, jungle, 10 Deep, Bape, Bbc , etc $09-$32 free shipping. We have lots of brand new shoes,clothing, handbag,sunglasses,hats etc for sale, our product is best quality with the amazing price. You can find the more photos and the price for our product in our website.

  OUR WEBSITE:
                                                        YAHOO:shoppertrade@yahoo.com.cn

                                                                MSN:shoppertrade@hotmail.com

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...