Flat World Knowledge Continues To Innovate: Make Your Own Textbook Platform

from the very-cool dept

We've been impressed by Flat World Knowledge from its very early days. The company offers open source textbooks, and has a business model that really fits with what we talk about: the books are free online (even without registration). But if you want a printed version, or certain additional conveniences, you have to pay. And, as an "open source" textbook company, it's always encouraged "remixing" of the textbooks in question to meet different classroom needs. However, it's now taken things a step further by launching a platform to make it easy to "make your own," by taking a textbook and remixing it, editing it, etc, directly in their platform. As soon as you're done, the new version becomes a "published" version. So a professor can create the "perfect" textbook for his or her class, building on the works already offered. This seems like a very useful offering for lots of professors.


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    Alphager, Apr 28th, 2011 @ 12:11am

    Nice but not innovative

    It's nice, but not innovative. I remember that O'Reilly hat the same offering in 2004.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 28th, 2011 @ 12:35am

      Re: Nice but not innovative

      It's nice, but not innovative. I remember that O'Reilly hat the same offering in 2004.


      Yeah, but a ton of content at FWK...

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2011 @ 1:10am

      Re: Nice but not innovative

      It's not innovative, per se; many, many textbook companies offer this service. However, this usually means paying even more for some slight customization, and often means the end product (the student's textbook) is of substantially lower quality.

      I know some universities 'strongly encourage' professors to use personalized textbooks, because those textbooks can only be bought though that university's affiliated booksellers. FWK is doing the academic world a great service by offering freely-available personalized textbooks.

      I don't that O'Reilly has gone quite so far in this area, but they are another of the more respectable publishers as regarded by my personal acquaintances. I don't much care which of them comes up with a good idea, so long as that idea is out in the world helping people.

       

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        Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Apr 28th, 2011 @ 1:22am

        Re: Re: Nice but not innovative

        I don't that O'Reilly has gone quite so far in this area, but they are another of the more respectable publishers as regarded by my personal acquaintances. I don't much care which of them comes up with a good idea, so long as that idea is out in the world helping people.

        So is this where O'Reilly sue, claiming to have a patent that covers the online remixing of textbooks thus killing the idea and "helping drive innovation"? Or is that just be being cynical....?

         

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          Chargone (profile), Apr 28th, 2011 @ 3:02am

          Re: Re: Re: Nice but not innovative

          if, like far too many other companies, they are run by idiots and/or lawyers, sure.

          otherwise, they find a way to be better, or serve a wider customer base, either of which leads to more sales for them (though the former also deprives FWK of customers, in theory, while the latter does not, also in theory)

           

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        Berenerd (profile), Apr 28th, 2011 @ 5:51am

        Re: Re: Nice but not innovative

        My school does this (I am going back for another degree). The issue is they charge a whole 170bucks for a book for a 1 credit course which costs $250 to take. This allows them to say they have a lower tuition than other schools that offer the same thing. its innovation of how to lie to students. I am smart enough to go to the company that makes them to get a copy (for about half the price) but kids just out of highschool tend not to know they can do that. I have a habit on the first day of class to get in trouble for speaking out of turn when I say that to the class. Teachers can't do anything but say "but those are not the right version) even though the only difference is the typos are fixed in the one I have.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2011 @ 8:33am

      Re: Nice but not innovative

      It's far more innovative enough to be patent worthy.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2011 @ 8:39am

        Re: Re: Nice but not innovative

        It's far more than innovative enough to be patent worthy *

        (this statement is made within the context of our broken patent system and within the context of what IP maximists generally consider innovative).

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2011 @ 8:40am

      Re: Nice but not innovative

      Besides, I think you miss the point. The point is that IP is not necessary for innovations to occur.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2011 @ 8:53am

        Re: Re: Nice but not innovative

        (and better business models that don't include overly restrictive copy protection limitations are possible, so copy protection laws don't have to be nearly as restrictive and one sided as they currently are. Book publishers don't need to overly scam the public to publish innovative new books).

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2011 @ 9:13am

      Re: Nice but not innovative

      "It's nice, but not innovative."

      It is innovative. You're confusing inventive with innovative.

       

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    Jon Renaut (profile), Apr 28th, 2011 @ 6:38am

    For the greater good

    This is a really positive thing for the rest of the country that thinks more open sharing of knowledge/content is generally a good thing. Nearly everyone gives more leeway when it's done in the name of education, and hopefully soon we can point to FWK and their success as a concrete argument in favor of scaling back copyright laws.

     

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