Textbooks are expensive. They could be almost free, especially in subjects like trigonometry or calculus, which don’t change very fast.
I’m a radical when it comes to the dissemination of knowledge: I want to give as much away for free as I can! So if I weren’t doing Azimuth, I’d probably be working to push for open-source textbooks.
Luckily, someone much better at this sort of thing is already doing that. David Roberts — a mathematician you may have seen at the n-Category Café — recently pointed out this good news:
• Ashley Vance, $200 Textbook vs. Free — You Do the Math, New York Times, July 31, 2010.
Early this year, Oracle, the database software maker, acquired Sun for $7.4 billion, leaving Mr. McNealy without a job. He has since decided to aim his energy and some money at Curriki, an online hub for free textbooks and other course material that he spearheaded six years ago.
“We are spending $8 billion to $15 billion per year on textbooks” in the United States, Mr. McNealy says. “It seems to me we could put that all online for free.”
The nonprofit Curriki fits into an ever-expanding list of organizations that seek to bring the blunt force of Internet economics to bear on the education market. Even the traditional textbook publishers agree that the days of tweaking a few pages in a book just to sell a new edition are coming to an end.
Whenever it happens, it’ll be none too soon for me!
Let us hope that someday the Azimuth Project becomes part of this trend…