Can One Guy Educate The World Via YouTube?

from the very-cool dept

This one is a bit personal. A dozen years ago, when I moved out to Silicon Valley from New York, I shared a house with two super smart guys, who had also just moved out to the area. One was a buddy of mine from college, and we needed a third guy to cover the third bedroom in the house we had just found. After asking around among friends, we were introduced to Sal Khan, who was looking for a place as well. We used to sit around and talk about cool ideas for businesses. I think we lived in the same house for a year, or maybe two, before going off in separate directions, though we ran into each other at the movies here or there, and every so often would email each other. About a year ago, Sal sent me an email mentioning a project he was working on called the Khan Academy, in which he videotapes himself teaching various educational lessons on anything from math to chemistry to history to finance and beyond. He even has a whole special section on the credit crisis, with an analysis of both former Treasury Secretary Paulson’s plan, as well as current Treasury Secretary Geithner’s plan.

It’s really impressive. And now a lot of people are noticing. Just a few weeks ago, I was literally out walking my dog, and started talking to someone else walking their dog, who was telling me all about this amazing thing, the Khan Academy. And, more recently, Slashdot had a nice post about it, noting that it’s basically one “very, very devoted man” and a YouTube channel, which is now getting over 100,000 views per day — all of which are under a Creative Commons 3.0 attribution-share alike license. The Slashdot piece was based off of an article from the San Jose Mercury News, which quotes Sal talking about how he’s trying to teach people the way he wishes he were taught — where they make subjects interesting and “show the beauty of what they” are teaching.

Now, I may be biased since I’m proud to see my old housemate be so successful with his project but it’s these sorts of projects that really do help demonstrate the kinds of powerful new opportunities the internet and things like YouTube allow. While giant companies like Viacom want to convince the world that YouTube’s success is really all about people wanting to watch clips of Viacom content, and others tell us that without DRM or strict copyright no one creates useful or compelling content, here’s just one guy, who is helping to educate the world and is flipping the basic model for educational information on its head by recognizing that great things happen when information is shared and more people are knowledgeable.

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Comments on “Can One Guy Educate The World Via YouTube?”

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53 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

(but I haven’t finished the series yet, just watched the first couple. lol. I bookmarked it a while ago but now I’m back to reading my chem book because I want to finish it. Then I’ll probably start on another chem book I have followed by more chem books and eventually I want to study biology).

You know what I want to do is download these things and burn them to DVD and watch them on my television. I wonder if they have a download page? I know I can probably rip them off Youtube but am wondering if I can explicitly download them. Uhm…. I remember reading something about getting them for $3? That’s not bad actually, can they send me a DVD set for maybe $20 or something? Haven’t really looked into the license agreement.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Re: Hope

“Patents and copyrights are there for this purpose after all to stop others from acquiring and using knowledge.”

Patents do not stop you from acquiring knowledge, in fact they teach the best mode for an invention. They also give you knowledge that allows you to either improve upon or even leapfrog the invention.

While a patent says that you cannot use an invention it is a fact that no inventor will sue an individual for use as long as use does not generate significant income. It simply is not economical to enforce a patent unless infringement is at least ten million dollars.

Copyright has significant fair use exceptions and most copyrighted material which conveys knowledge would be available through public libraries. And do not forget that all published patents and patent applications are available free of charge. They are a treasure trove of knowledge if people simply take the time to learn how to understand them.

Trade publications are also a treasure trove of knowledge. While most articles are written with by specific companies with their own bias reading these publications over time tends to give the reader a broad perspective. Trade publications are usually free to qualified readers, including students. See: http://www.inventored.org/trade/

It has been my experience that there is a vast body of knowledge available for just the effort of seeking it and actually being willing to invent the effort in understanding. The problem is that most people are too lazy to take advantage of what is available.

Ronald J. Riley,

President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org

Other Affiliations:
Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
Senior Fellow – http://www.PatentPolicy.org
President – Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Washington, DC
Direct (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 9 pm EST.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Re: A means to share knowledge!

Not just to share knowledge but also a means to allow collaboration. Internet has allowed inventors who often do not have peers in their immediate geographical area to support each other and to avoid many pitfalls which would have ended their ability to succeed.

For example, we have been tracking fraudulent invention promotion companies for about fifteen years and publishing information about the companies, their employees and the exact nature of the scam they run. Massive amounts of information is available abut invention promoters at http://www.InventorEd.org/caution/.

We do the same thing for inventors trying to license their inventions. Some companies are notorious for acting nice and getting as much information as possible from the inventor, telling the inventor that they are not interested at the time and then putting an infringing product out. When they are caught they the company then whines about vicious trolls. We try to help inventors avoid those companies and if all the companies in an industry are cut from the same cloth we try to connect the inventor with a good litigator. It is amazing how having a litigator in tow tempers conduct of larcenous big companies.

Ronald J. Riley,

President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org

Other Affiliations:
Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
Senior Fellow – http://www.PatentPolicy.org
President – Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Washington, DC
Direct (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 9 pm EST.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

There is tons of other evidence, that you willfully ignore, supporting the idea that IP is not needed and there is little to no evidence supporting the opposite. This is just one piece of evidence.

Of course you care, you unfairly benefit from IP and you care if you lose your unearned and undeserved monopoly rents to the benefit of society. You’re selfish.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

“In other words his business model is luck.”

No, his business model, like most others, involve risk. and it’s not the job of the government to reduce risk, the purpose is to promote the progress and produce more aggregate output. and IP is not needed and only gets in the way. It’s expensive to implement and it interferes with our rights and privacy for no good reason. The fact that you unfairly benefit from it and are unwilling to take any risks and would much rather parasite off of the work of others like most IP maximists is no excuse to keep IP.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

“the purpose is to promote the progress and produce more aggregate output. and IP is not needed and only gets in the way.”

Today the cost of just the patent is at least $30,000. When you factoring in the inventors time and other costs a published patent is at least a $100,000 proposition. No one will teach their invention if they do not get anything in return.

How many people on TechDIRT even have $100,000 or more in liquid assets? Have you considered how many years an inventor has to work and save in order to get a patent?

Patents are an asset just like designs to produce a product, advertising and marketing to create name recognition and so on.

People who violate patents are the parasites, not the inventor.

Ronald J. Riley,

President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org

Other Affiliations:
Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
Senior Fellow – http://www.PatentPolicy.org
President – Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Washington, DC
Direct (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 9 pm EST.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

“I’d argue that give it away and pray is not a good plan.”

Every time an inventor shows their invention to a large company they face this. At least one in ten will steal the invention.

It is amazing how big companies want inventors to “give it away and pray” & pray & pray. The idea is that as long as we are praying they are profiting. Anyone who studies the history of invention without the TechDIRT blinders on knows that praying is not productive and kicking tail is what is productive.

Ronald J. Riley,

President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org

Other Affiliations:
Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
Senior Fellow – http://www.PatentPolicy.org
President – Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Washington, DC
Direct (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 9 pm EST.

darryl says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Yes, I can, every business model that actually sells a product or service for money.

All businesses that do not rely upon someone giving a ‘donation’.

There is a huge difference beteen ‘risk’ and ‘luck’, one can be controlled and managed, and the other cannot.

You do not drive your car based on “luck” you drive it based on specific and controllable risk.

So when you finally get to where you are going you do not say “wow, that was pure luck that I got here”, you say “I drove carefully, and in a controlled and planned way and I reduced the risk to a level where I did not require “luck”.

The list of business models that are different to one based on luck would be far too long to list here.

But we could start with your business model Mike, is it based on “luck” ?????

What about your CFm+ crap ?? is it based on ‘luck’ or by providing a vaible business model ?

Mike, you never answer questions, you pose other questions, is that because you are incapable ?

Here is a business model for you mike,

What about your local milk bar ? does it rely on luck to make a profit and to survive ?

Or does it rely on selling products and services that people are willing to pay for ?

Like milk shakes and taste nice, that people are willing to open their pockets and pay cash for !!

He has risks, the weather might be bad and not many people want to drink milk shakes in cold weather, but that is ‘risk’ not ‘luck’.

You can manage risk you cannot manage luck, you know before you start that some days will be cold and you will not sell as much, and some days will be hot and you will sell alot of products.

only a fool would base their business on ‘luck’, and only someone equally foolish would claim that all business are based upon luck…

Is your business model based on luck mick ? where in your equation does ‘luck’ come into it ?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

and another problem with copy protection laws is that these copy protection content starts to occupy broadcasting airspace, restricting what we can do on broadcasting airspace and taking away from broadcasting content that can be delivered on public airwaves and it takes up government monopolized cable space as well doing the same exact thing. It’s not fair for those who want to release their content for free that they have to compete with government monopolized distribution channels that want a monopoly on both the distribution channel and the content and it’s not fair for consumers who have to deal with distribution channel and content monopolies and have their rights restricted in terms of what they can do with such monopolized channels. ALL content delivered via government monopolized channels (ie: broadcasting spectra and cableco infrastructure) should be FREE to copy and redistribute. Anything less is unacceptable.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

The govt should NEVER, EVER grant a monopoly on both the distribution channel and the content. We’ve put up with this nonsense far too long as a society, making it very difficult for artists and content creators to get non copyright material distributed and giving consumers convenient access only to monopolized content delivered through monopolized distribution channels in a way that restricts our rights to deliver our own independent non monopolized (ie: CC like) content via those channels and to freely copy and distribute the content delivered on those monopolized channels. This is completely unacceptable just because the govt and monopolists have no regard for morality and it should never ever be tolerated. Our currently monopolized system needs to be corrected.

Jose_X (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Right, most CC licenses do not go all the way to public domain.

However, people who use CC licenses do not have the option to leverage a ton of copyrighted works. Thus, they give much (not all) access, yet frequently are denied access.

In a world where everyone could have full access, the biased field would not exist and it would be easy to give full access since you would have full access as well.

This said, I can live with CC+friends in the sense that we just need to promote artists that use these and shun the others. Over time, with enough quality CC-share-alike works, it will effectively be as if copyright almost didn’t exist. And with CC, we can all contribute to build superior works (see Wikipedia).

Spread the word, and put your money where it counts.

Meanwhile, patent law needs reform to make sure what you and others create (mostly independently) are not deemed illegal under any circumstances.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Mike is spinning this as a way to say look what happens without IP.

No. I’m not. I’m just pointing out what YouTube enables with or without IP. The argument was not that it shows we don’t need IP, but to point out that plenty of people create tons of really compelling content for reasons other than what you and your industry friends insist is necessary.

One guy with some investment money is not a sucessful business and does not prove that all IP is unneeded.

He’s making a living. You have a problem with that?

DontRespond says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Of the few times I see you address AC’s, I wonder why you would even care what that AC said? Why does your friend have to be making a profit doing what he’s doing anyway? Isn’t doing something good for people and seeing a constant rise of views enough to say he’s doing something worthwhile without having to ask about profit?

Anonymous Coward says:

“all of which are under a Creative Commons 3.0 attribution-share alike license.”

A license exactly designed to circumvent copy protection laws, at least to some extent. But remember, no art nor music nor video would ever be produced if it weren’t for 95 year copy protection laws.

and patents are equally as much of a scam as are anti copy privileges. It’s always in the name of promoting the progress but that’s just the stated purpose, the true purpose is to destroy progress for personal gain.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

DRM and other restrictions

Right on, Michael. In college, I was ready to drop out, and certainly not interested in going beyond a bachelor’s degree if I got that far. An “incompetent” professor (his first and last year of teaching) didn’t get through all the material in our physics course, but left me with a deep and abiding love of physics and the scientific mathod – and caused me to end up with a doctorate! Condolezza Rice prevented that from becoming TWO doctorates, but that is another story.
BUT, on the subject of DRM, etc., my wife (the singer) was trying to promote a musician – but his CD was “not for distribution”, so eventually that all went away. If he only knew how much that “not for distribution” CD cost him! She is too non-confrontive to tell him, or to let me tell him, but to (mis)quote Marlon Brando, “(He) coulda been a contender!”

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