Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Book of the month

 Hello everyone!

So this month I actually managed to read a couple of books even though I thought with the arrival of my little monster I wouldn't have time to read ever again. A bit dramatic, I know... Anyway my dad actually recommended this book to me, "The Diamond Age" by Neal Stephenson and I'm quite glad he did.

Diamond Age is a postcyberpunk novel first published in 1996. If like me you didn't know what postcyberpunk meant, here is what Wikipedia has to say about it: "typical postcyberpunk stories continue the focus on social implications within a post-third industrial-era society, such as ubiquitous datasphere of computerized information and cybernetic augmentation of the human body". 

The story is mainly focused on Nell and her Young Lady's Illustrated Primer an interactive book of sorts that teaches its owner through the method of story telling. The novel also focuses on themes of education, social class, ethnicity and artificial intelligence. While there are lots of reasons why this book is awesome and I would recommend it to everyone, what I really want to talk about is the Primer.

Nell, the main protagonist, is a child from an under privileged family that one day comes across a rare copy of the Primer. To start off with Nell couldn't read or write but this interactive book adapts to her educational needs and begins to teach the young child how to read and write. Through the course of the story the Primer teaches Nell everything she  would learn at school and more. In fact, the Primer's way of teaching through storytelling is so effective that by the end  of the book Nell is just as educated as the rich children of the land.

Now, you may be thinking that although far fetched, this "Primer" would revolutionize the way children learn and would even possibly be a way of educating children in the developing world. Well you wouldn't be wrong. In fact there is actually a fund set up to try and create something similar called "Global Learning Xprize".

Global Learning Xprize has set a challenge: "develop new learning solutions to empower children and communities around the world". They are hosting a $15 million competition that challenges teams from around the world to develop open source scalable software solution that will enable children in developing countries to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic. This competition launched last September and currently it is still open for teams to sign up. As you can imagine this is a pretty exciting prospect that I will be keeping a close eye on!

So to recap on my ramblings. I really enjoyed reading this book and would highly recommend it. It is full of crazy futuristic ideas that may actually be tangible within the next few years. It's a fantastical book full of crazy technology like mechanical horses and matter compilers. Once I finished reading I actually read one of Stephenson's earlier books, "Zodiac" which is completely different, I thought for a bit that there may have been two authors with the same name! He's an amazing writer with a crazy imagination that everyone should check out!

That is my rambling done for today! Thanks for reading and don't forget to say hi in the comments!

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