Linux, politics, and other interesting things
However the Internet is a great tool for learning for people who choose to use it in that way, for example I have learned many interesting things from reading Wikipedia and following the links which I probably wouldn’t have learned in any other way. Criticising the Net for the lack of reading by the population makes just as much sense as criticising newspapers. She gives an example of a North London school where the library was under-utilised and compares it to schools in Africa where students beg for books and claims that the Net is at fault. But you could just as easily blame newspapers as Britain has some of the worst examples of tabloid journalism in the English language – of course Britain also has some really high quality papers and anyone can choose which ones to read. I think that when children don’t have much interest in reading it’s more sensible to criticise the education system.
The article is not that great either, one significant flaw is referring to Elton John as “another creative type“. No, Elton is a formerly creative type who’s afraid that the pension he expected from his back catalogue is threatened. Ex-artists who complain about the Net merely demonstrate that for them it’s not about the music. The Wikipedia article about Elton John  documents his career and you can see that since the late 80’s it’s been steadily going downhill.
To create literature you must read it – which doesn’t mean being close to old-fashioned libraries (as Doris claims). Currently I am trying to write science fiction, largely inspired by Cory Doctorow  and www.365tomorrows.com/. One good thing about the Internet is that there is a reasonably level playing field that everyone can compete on. Bloggers compete for readers using all forms of writing – including literature.
The speech has more information about Zimbabwe  and the difficulties faced by people there who want to learn. One thing that has the potential to improve the situation there is the One Laptop Per Child  project. Such a laptop costs about the same amount as 20 novels (based on US prices) or 5 text books but can be used to store many more books.