99: Dewey Decimals and Dance Dance Revolution

"Less than a year and about $8,000 later, Neiburger and Helmrich had set up one of the first and largest gaming tournaments at any municipal library in the country. Kids came out of the woodwork to play Mario Kart: Double Dash and Super Smash Bros: Melee. Roughly a quarter of them had never been to a library before.
According to Neiburger, 'One kid told us videogames are gateway drugs for libraries.'"

Dewey Decimals and Dance Dance Revolution

These days, nine-tenths of my books come from Project Gutenberg (which is of course only possible because I spend so much time in front of a computer anyway), and it has always perplexed me why I couldn't, for example, go online to my public library's website and read books there that were published more recently than seventy years ago. (This is usually immediately before I remember that book publishers exist.) The notion that reading a book on a screen just doesn't feel right is less and less relevant to the next generation of hu-mans. If public libraries are for the public, then by all means let's take libraries to where the public are: online!

Ah, but the book publishers. Yes, that'd be an issue; what's the point of writing a book if you don't stand even a slight chance of being compensated for your time? It's largely the same tangle that the music business has been forced into, and I can understand why book publishers aren't eager to jump in after them. If some schema could be found that doesn't mean users have to put up with cumbersome technological restrictions, then.... Well, a man can dream, can't he?

Eli Neiburger:
but the fact is the mainstream audience ain't interested in learning.

That couldn't be further from the truth. People love learning. The thing is, people like learning a whole lot more when it isn't done in a stuffy old building with a stuffy old teacher. I, as well as many others I'm sure, don't enjoy a preaching from some guy thats so out of touch with the times that hes still using an overhead projector to teach the class.

I have spent so much time since I have gotten out of school reading on Wikipedia, buying books, watching TV, and playing games that I can't imagine considering myself averse to learning. I also spend some of my time writing, working, and attempting to get a web page running. I enjoy learning new things in each aspect of life, even if my job is menial and my writing lessons are more from practice than from reading "The Elements of Style".

People are naturally curious. I think the problem is that books are for a generation and time when expertise was the most important part of learning. These days the human mind is being utilized as a "jack of all information database". It is advantageous to learn a little bit about everything instead of learning a whole lot about one thing, because information is so easy to get. If I know a little about Greek mythology, in our info age, I can use that little bit to learn a whole lot more if I feel so inclined, on demand with negligible lag. In fact, I spelled negligible wrong in the last sentence, but having the basic gist of the word I was able to correct immediately with spell check in my Firefox browser. I didn't even have to copy and paste into word (let alone thumb through a giant, possibly out of date, dictionary).

So basically, people don't dislike learning, the process just needs reforming for a world where the needs have changed.


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