Every person’s life is a book.
We evolved the book to be the ecosystem of one’s human capital: the simsbook.
We re-invented the book as a platform to play on, with powerful possibilities.
We re-engineered the book to be a convergent media entity.
Now the book offers exciting, entertaining, empowering presence in this digital global village.
Our invention, simsbook, forms the foundation for thought-leaders of society.
Our vision for humanity: every person author of a book in her or her lifetime, in simsbook format.
– Shaun Michael Samaroo, Founder, Qualped
The theory of books is noble. The scholar of the first age received into him the world around; brooded thereon; gave it the new arrangement of his own mind, and uttered it again. It came into him, life; it went out from him, truth. It came to him, short-lived actions; it went out from him, immortal thoughts. It came to him, business; it went from him, poetry. It was dead fact; now, it is quick thought.
Each age, it is found, must write its own books; or rather, each generation for the next succeeding. The books of an older period will not fit this.
The state of society is one in which the members have suffered amputation from the trunk, and strut about so many walking monsters, ⎯ a good finger, a neck, a stomach, an elbow, but never a man. Man is thus metamorphosed into a thing, into many things.
The planter, who is Man sent out into the field to gather food, is seldom cheered by any idea of the true dignity of his ministry. He sees his bushel and his cart, and nothing beyond, and sinks into the farmer, instead of Man on the farm.
The tradesman scarcely ever gives an ideal worth to his work, but is ridden by the routine of his craft, and the soul is subject to dollars.
The priest becomes a form; the attorney, a statute-book; the mechanic, a machine; the sailor, a rope of a ship.
In this distribution of functions, the scholar is the delegated intellect. In the right state, he is, Man Thinking. In the degenerate state, when the victim of society, he tends to become a mere thinker, or, still worse, the parrot of other men’s thinking.
In this view of him, as Man Thinking, the theory of his office is contained. Him nature solicits with all her placid, all her monitory pictures; him the past instructs; him the future invites.
Is not, indeed, every man a student, and do not all things exist for the student’s behoof? – The American Scholar, Ralph Waldo Emerson
March 6, 2018
Brief History of English
English spans the world today, the global language of commerce, education, international relations and world politics. Within the structure of English Language, though, lurks a problem: English preserves a subtle schism; a sort of class division. Since we humans think – and build society – within language, the inherent subtle division that this language perpetuates suggests a significant challenge for human nature. Let’s examine this monkey that sits on humanity’s back as human nature communicates through English to build civilization.
We must probe the roots of the language itself to flesh out this skeletal schism, and how it snakes its way so slyly through the contemporary socio-cultural structure of our global village. English developed from three main roots, growing out of an amalgamation of:
A ruling-class Latinate origin from Roman Empire rule, welded to Ingles, a local dialect
Danish and Germanic Anglo-Saxon influence from ancient tribes that migrated from Germany to England, whose chiefs and leaders became the first English monarchy
The local Celtic and Viking dialects, welded with French and local village lingo
These combined into the unique language we know as English, which transformed over history from Old English to Middle English, then to Modern English.
Today, English works well worldwide, fluid, open to innovation, easy to adapt and to blend into local lingo and culture and sociological forms. However, this subtle schism – which, astonishingly, survives history and repelled even transformations in the form and design of the language’s structure – plays a dominant role in preserving a distinct class division within humanity.
Today’s Latinate form of English preserves the hierarchical, nobility-minded, high-minded, monarchical, high-society, high upper-class structure that underlined Monarchical societies of the ancient kingdoms – where society functioned along strict lines of socio-cultural division. Under the economic system of kingdoms and fiefdoms and feudalism that separated humanity into the nobles, the higher-ups, the rulers, against the public, masses, rabble, servants, workers, under that structure, English developed two distinct styles.
The higher-ups nurtured and cultivated the Latinate version of English, maintaining all official communication in this form. In education, law, politics, public administration, and formal communication, and of masters of society addressing servants of society, this form of English became a useful tool to keep the line of division, the subtle schism, on firm footing: rulers vs ruled.
Latinate English follows a pattern of opaque, dense, and hifalutin communication: it’s a style that employs words and sentences and verbs of logical linearity, multi-syllabic, abstract, passive. Check out any official communication of lawyers, politicians, administrators, and Latinate English shows up as the main style.
On the other hand, the common people embrace the other branch of English, which linguists label Anglo-Saxon English. This form of style employs street lingo; emotive, monosyllabic, active, concrete.
Society suffers a grotesque social division that stems from these two forms of English Language. Latinate English cloaks its communication in a dense, foggy, impenetrable style, which the common people cannot easily comprehend. Yet, officialdom insists on using only Latinate English in official communication. Thus, much of official communication remains in a realm that the masses and common people find unreachable.
Media became one tool Mankind uses to deal with this problem, with Media serving as the explaining conduit between the abstract opacity of the ruling class, and the thirsting desire of the common rabble to know what the ruling elite decrees. Such is the difficult nature of Democracy, Human Rights, Liberty and Equality, and Public Accountability.
For the purposes of this essay, let’s zero in on one particular perpetuation of Latinate English: its use in tertiary education. Universities employ such opaque, dense, multi-syllabic forms of language with a high degree of bombastic pride, labeling their learnedness with such words as scholars, intellectuals, professors, and graduates.
For postgraduate students who complete Master’s and Doctoral programs, such language becomes cultural status quo. Especially in writing thesis documents of their research, postgraduate students got no choice but to employ a special style of “thesis-writing”. In fact, universities worldwide practice channellling their tertiary education students through thesis-writing coaches and mentors, who make sure that the students stick to the tradition of employing only Latinate English in writing the thesis paper of their research findings.
Such a practice today leaves the world with the astonishing situation where universities worldwide now sit on millions of in-depth, well-researched and deep thought-out knowledge, albeit cloaked in opaque Master’s and Doctoral thesis manuscripts; unreachable for the masses of humanity.
So today humanity rides on this incomprehensible Latinate English beast, our highest form of knowledge being unreachable to the vast majority of human beings.
In 2014, Canada produced 7,000 Doctoral graduates from world class universities. In the United States, 67,000 people graduated with a Doctorate in 2014 alone. Worldwide, in 2014, 300,000 students wrote well-researched, deep-knowledge, ground-breaking thesis manuscripts as they graduated with their Doctorate degree.
Our 21st century world today owns the results of the best human resource capital to grace this planet, with upwards of four million PhD graduate theses in American universities alone.
Yet, much of this knowledge sits in university libraries, basement rooms, storage shelves, and even document vaults, gathering dust, impenetrable to the common man.
Today the world owns a global language, with which cultures, nations, industries communicate and build. But do we witness a world that unites our universal intelligence into one global brain, one common humanity tapping into our common and united human resource Capital?
Such a dream remains a distant mirage, because that language with which we communicate, the English Language, suffers us to preserve the class distinctions that separate us into ruler vs ruled; ignorant vs learned; honorable official vs common rabble; Masters’s and Doctorate graduates vs under-privileged and under-graduates.
However, this schism problem may cling with deep root within human psyche itself. Human Nature itself may reflect this schism, with English Language maybe merely mirroring, mimicking what’s already embedded in us. After all, we invented the language to communicate who we are, to project ourselves and to interact efficiently with our environment.
English thrives as one of many languages in the world. Humans developed Language as the technology to communicate and organize ourselves into social organs. Linguists suggest that language developed out of pre-historic communities using sound and aural codes with the vocal chord and breath. Over time, guttural grunts became coded messages that members of the social organ could use to interpret and apply meaning to their environment and their behaviour.
Such a system eventually evolved into cave drawings of the external world, and then into campfire storytelling. Sound-based communication leaped into sight-communication, most likely because storytellers would use charcoal and soot from the campfire and, with a stick, make crude marks, then shapes, outlines and drawings, to add clarity to their stories.
Divisions in social order may have started to emerge from this early period, with some persons able to tell stories well and use drawings and diagrams to illustrate complex ideas, and even relate events – like hunting adventures. Maybe systems even evolved whereby a few persons became designated storytellers, entertaining and enlightening and informing the social unit, with the rest of the community merely passive audience – not unlike the media vs masses paradigm of today.
In time, story and cave outline drawings matured into a system of Writing.
When Mankind invented the art of Writing to capture and record important information, society inadvertently implemented the system of division and elitism in our social order, because Writing made complex the communication code, merging sound and sight – what we call phonics today – into a system of rules. Persons who learned and controlled the Writing system took control of the social order. The rest of the community became followers.
History records the Sumerian civilization as the first to invent Writing. Farmers recorded information about weather and crops and the agriculture economy on clay tablets, sketching information onto the tablets using their Writing code, which was a set of cuneiform, symbols representing objects. Writers would sketch their symbols onto the clay tablets and dry them in sunlight. Thus, they preserved, stored and shared information. One could imagine that not every member of the community learned the system of cuneiform symbols, and only a few mastered it, becoming the writers and recorders of the day.
When the Egyptian Empire started developing, a new form of writing emerged, with the Egyptian hieroglyphs. This system of Writing employed drawings that served as symbols of objects and ideas. So a drawing of the shape of a fish represented a fish, for example. Much of this Writing stemmed from Egyptian pagan religious leaders using hieroglyphs to record their theology and religious rules and rites. The common people followed these decrees with sacred obedience and holy reverence for their divine-endowed religious leaders. Today, authors and professional writers retain this kind of reverence in society, carrying on the tradition of elitism that surrounded scribes for thousands of years.
After the Egyptian Writing system, the Greek Empire developed its alphabet system, fueling the world’s first major development of a Writing industry. Scribes, copiers and transcribers emerged to form a profession, and their service gave the ignorant masses access to philosophy and knowledge. Gradually, people learned to decipher the alphabet – to read – and knowledge spread across distances. In fact, such a Writing system fueled the Greek invention of Democracy, Philosophy, and individual empowerment. However, the Writers emerged as preeminent in society, because it took thousands of years for full literacy to reach the common man.
History records that this early development of Writing set up human society for this subtle schism we see today preserved in the English Language: the rulers vs ruled paradigm became embedded in language systems, and the Writing System became a tool for the elite to dominate, subjugate and lord it over the masses.
For thousands of years, the ordinary common man and woman never learned to read or write, depending on transcribers to relate Writings into aural language for comprehension across the society. In England the first great literature creators, like Chaurcer and Shakespeare, focused on aural communication, instead of writing.
England inherited the Latinate format from Rome as ‘official’ communication of the noble. By the time the Roman Empire had come into being, this division had become a global, universal operating system across every society: elite, noble, learned vs peasant, common, ignorant. After Emperor Constantine incorporated Christianity as the official religion of the Empire, the Roman Catholic Church adopted this system of division with zeal, instituting the priest-laity dynamic that had informed all societies across history and pre-history: the division of ruled vs ruler, holy vs unholy, noble vs common, got embedded in modern thought-form.
The Catholic Church instituted its language of holiness as Latin, the language of the nobles of the Roman Empire. To this day, the Catholic Church only uses Latin in its religious ceremonies – even though Latin is a dead language.
The Catholic Church became the main force within the Roman Empire, and eventually the Catholic Pope became head of the Western Holy Roman Empire.
And then, as the Roman Empire wound down and collapsed, England and other European nations emerged as Empires, with the British Empire coming to dominate the world. But that Latinate influence, that societal schism of nobles vs commoners, became the main operating principle informing how society’s social organization functions. So Mankind installed the system into the English Language: Latinate English and Anglo-Saxon English. It’s like that to this day.
After Rome’s Emperor Constantine’s First Council of Nicea defined what would make up the Holy Bible in the year 305 AD, the Church had scribes transcribe the scriptures into their Vulgate Latin Bible. This religious document the common man could not fathom, being unable to read Latin, the Roman language of the day. Nor could any average person get hold of a copy and write it out in their local dialect, because the Church made the Scriptures an holy thing, untouchable to the commoners: only sanctified priests could read and transcribe the gospel. Plus, the masses made for an ignorant class: much of humanity existed as ignorant peasants who worked the land to eek out bare survival.
In this scenario, meanwhile, European traders in contact with China in the Far East came across China’s printing system of movable type, made of carved wood, which Chinese nobles used to print with a laborious process. Chinese printing did not attempt to mass produce writings, but to use printing only as a copy system, for nobles to write and copy and record information.
In Germany, in the year 1440, a young man, Johannes Gutenberg, came across the information of the Chinese printing system. As a blacksmith, he used metal to shape the letters of the English alphabet.
Gutenberg, a devout Christian, get the idea that he could build a printing system to copy the Bible and mass circulate it beyond the walls of the church and the pulpits of priests. Back then, the Catholic Church sold the service of priests to the laity, the common people, as their only intermediate between humanity and heaven, and the priests read the bible and therefore knew truth, and the bible was holy, so the average person could not touch it. The priest became the go-between, with the bible and scriptures taboo to common people. Gutenberg set out to upset this order.
Gutenberg invented the metal movable type printing press, and black ink, and using paper imported to Europe from China, printed 49 bibles – today known as Gutenberg Bible; now expensive collectors’ items in the world.
With the invention of the printing press, an English man, William Tyndale, took on the task of making the bible available to anybody who could read in England: he translated the Bible into English, and published the Tyndale Bible. This opened the Bible to the common masses in the British Empire, and it evoked incredible wrath from the Catholic Church. The Church had always fought such an advent, and even attacked and tried to prevent Gutenberg from being successful with the printing press.
Martin Luther’s 95 Thesis
Tyndale’s Bible inspired Martin Luther, a German priest who felt that the Catholic Church exercised oppressive lording authority over the lot of humanity. He wrote his famous ’95 Theses’, denouncing the Church for its dictatorship over the souls of men and women.
Gutenberg’s press printed and circulated both Tyndale’s Bible and Luther’s reformation document, causing widespread revolution, including the birth of the Reformation Movement, which established a parallel church system, the Protestant Church, to challenge the authority of the Catholic Church.
Then, in 1611, King James 1 published the King James Bible, and this singular event caused a massive disruption in how societies develop.
The English Bible, especially the King James, used common language, with a heavy preference for Anglo-Saxon style and form. From this one act, with widespread distribution through the printing press, the world saw the birth of the Enlightenment, and with biblical ideas of the Rights of Man, the spread of popular Democracy, mass Education, inalienable Human Rights, the Common Law System, and widespread literacy. In the next three centuries, these ideas took hold of the world, transforming the soul of humanity.
The invention of the printing press, coupled with the publication of this religious text in the language of the common people, along with the spread of English through the British Empire, revolutionized humanity, leaping civilization ahead, accelerating human development. Nothing symbolizes this astonishing revolution more than what happened in the islands of the Caribbean, where descendants of African slaves of ancient tribes became a nation, with Christian societies and English as their only language. Such impact penetrated every corner of the earth, including India, China and Africa.
Literature and Human Nature
Gutenberg’s printing press survived the enormous assault of the powerful Catholic Church, and became the tool for a widespread opening up of knowledge. Following the success of the Tyndale Bible, authors started writing and publishing books, circulating these far and wide.
Common men and women started learning to read, and soon education systems had developed a new generation of schooled people who could read books. Authors flourished, and still fourish today, forming an elite global publishing industry as thought-leaders of humanity.
Democracy, Education, Literacy, Knowledge, Human Rights, Personal Empowerment, Invention, Creativity, Meritocracy, Ideas, Human Resource Capital – the list is long and distinguished, of how humanity benefited from the printing press, twinned with a rampant British Empire spreading worldwide the English Language, and of the common reach of the Bible and its offspring, the book. The ideas in the Bible fuelled such ideas as the Rights of Man, and the Rule of Law rather than the Rule of king. In fact, the British Pioneers who founded the new world, migrating from England to America, brought with them these ideas, of equality, liberty, popular democracy and the rights of Man. America came to embody the ideals that grew and developed from humanity’s opening up.
However, the English settlers of America also brought the language, and the ancient social divisions had already embedded deep tentacles into the language itself. Today, such a schism lurks within society, generating a deep wedge that keeps the common people from participating in the full knowledge of this 21st century Age of Knowledge.
The form of the book
Over the course of this history, from the start of the dominance of the British Empire as it spread English as the global language, books became the bedrock, reservoir and wellspring of knowledge, and of personal empowerment. Authors became the stronghold of humanity’s well of knowledge.
In the education system, textbooks rule the roost. Even today, with widespread use of videos and audio, the printed textbook is still the preferential choice for teachers and students. Books educated us, gave us new ideas, empowered us to gain rights and freedoms – unknown to generations before the 20th century.
The singular technology that fueled human progress is the book.
What function, purpose, tool the book provides?
The book serves as a technology for storing, recording, transmitting and publishing and circulating information, ideas, knowledge, stories, thoughts and intellectual property. The book is the embodiment of human resource capital, housing Mankind’s collective mind.
The book also allows for a computation of knowledge, where an author’s ideas become seed for readers and other thinkers to grow an entire ecosystem out of the one book. We see this with the massive inter-generational global influence of such books like Karl Marx’s ‘Communist Manifesto’, which spread communism to half the world for half a century; and Adam Smith’s ‘Wealth of Nations’, which generated the Industrial Revolution and Free Market Economy now dominant throughout the world; and the Declaration of American Independence, a document that created the American Century and fuelled the astonishing rise of human rights worldwide.
The book, then, serves as Mankind’s best friend, our golden grail of knowledge.
Why the book?
The book overtook everything else to become the preeminent tool with which we fuel human progress. Nothing else comes close to its achievement over the past 600 years, a time period when humanity leaped ahead in our civilization exponentially compared to all of history before that.
What is the book?
Books embody our stories, knowledge, ideas, and the collective body of human resource capital. Books inhabit the wealth of Mankind’s Intellectual Property.
So when Andrew Carnegie became the richest man in the world in the early 1900’s, he remembered the value books played in his development, to rise from a poor immigrant to America from Scotland, to become the wealthiest man on the earth.
With wealth of US$300 billion (in today’s dollars), Carnegie set out with a grand vision: to build public libraries in every community across the United States. Today, the world over, public libraries exist in every nook and cranny of the global village. We owe that to Andrew Carnegie. We owe men like Johannes Gutenberg and Martin Luther and William Tyndale and King James 1 for generating the freedom of humanity, for opening the doors for equality and liberty to be so embedded and entrenched in global society today. And they paved the way with the book, causing the spread of ideas, opening of minds, empowering of the common human being. And Andrew Carnergie gave the common person free access to the world’s best books, equipping multitudes of ordinary people with books in free public libraries, everywhere on earth.
By the middle of the 19th century, Mankind had reached the summit of history’s biggest wavecrest of knowledge, which continues to swell today. Only Alexander the Great’s library at Alexandria rivals what Carnegie accomplished, and even then Alexander’s library served only one city, and only a handful of elite literate humans on the earth. No book in Alexander’s library reached a common human being in those days.
Without the book, we would not today enjoy recourse to the works of Shakespeare and the great thinkers of Greece and England and Europe as the Enlightenment fuelled civilization. We would not even be able to study Mozart and Beethoven and Da Vinci, exploring in books of literary criticism and deep thinking the works of great humans.
By the middle of the 20th century, the book became the storehouse, transmitter and thinking organ of humanity.
But then the Internet happened towards the end of the 20th century, and the book became an endangered specimen, with many pundits pronouncing the death of printing altogether, and the mortality of the form of the book. Multimedia glitz and glamour in digital space out-rivaled the flat, gray, one-dimensional format of the book. With movies and music benefiting from the digital revolution, the book suffered from lack of attention, and a generation fascinated with screens rather than pages, and from overwhelming information overload.
Michael Hart and the ebook
In 1971, an American university professor, Michael Hart, considered the scenario here outlined in this essay, and chose to dedicate his life to making books, literacy and knowledge easily available to every man, woman and child on the planet earth. He invented the electronic book, the ebook, and converted the American Declaration of Independence as the first ebook in the world.
Hart saw that if he divorced the book from its tied relationship to the printing press, unhinging it to become an electronic file available on the emerging World Wide Web, he would be able to further this momentum that surged across the earth over the past 100 years. He saw that he could accelerate democracy, literacy, human rights, personal empowerment – these forces that swept the common human being into becoming a person of power, worth and value.
Hart died in 2011, and left a platform and a vision, which he named the Gutenberg Project, for humanity to install one billion free ebooks online by 2022, available at any time to anybody anywhere in the world.
The Gutenberg Project houses 50,000+ free ebooks, plus other sites online offer multitudes of free ebooks. Total ebooks today on the web number well over one million. Free ebooks now circulate the works of Socrates, Plato, Shakespeare, and a host of humanity’s greatest thinkers.
Now, anybody anywhere in the world could go online and access the best books in human history, for free, in ebooks: knowledge that used to be within high university walls and sacred rooms now lie open to the common man or woman anywhere on earth. Michael Hart’s ebook project opens up the wealth of human knowledge to each person who graces the planet today.
However, Hart’s revolution, of extracting the book from its dependence on the printing press, got stuck in the same flat, grey, one-dimensional format that made printing out-dated.
On the Internet, music and movies became the global village’s go-to preference for stories, information and learning. The printing, publishing and book industry remains strong around the world, because the education system still relies on printed textbooks as the main reservoir of knowledge. But most humans shun, avoid, disregard books, ebooks, and deep reading as too boring, mundane, and slow. Multitudes of free ebooks online fail to attract readers, worldwide, as humanity flocks to videos, music and movies: Michael Hart’s ebook revolution lags behind his vision, as our reservoir of knowledge falls to the underbelly of technology platforms.
Now, 47 years after Michael Hart invented the electronic book format, with his landmark of achieving one billion ebooks circulating for free online by 2022 – 50 years after his first ebook, it’s imperative for us to look at the book format with serious intent to innovate the book, to revolution knowledge.
Here’s why: we live in this 21st century in the Age of Knowledge, with the Knowledge Economy spanning the global village, with information, knowledge, insights forming the bedrock of how we live, play, work. Yet, the common rabble refuses to embrace free books online, where the best books, ideas, thoughts, knowledge float about with such ease of access.
Today, within this entity we call the book lies Mankind’s collective Intecctual Property, our Human Asset, Human Capital, Human Resource Base. In history, the invention of the book stands out as the singular golden grail that propels humanity’s creativity to dwell with the gods. With the book we became divine beings, truely able to know good and evil, possessing astonishing power to understand life, the heavens and earth, and to employ such insights into our actions – to live with wisdom.
With the book we generate human wealth, we own the earth, we invented robots and Artificial Intelligence and smart machines, with Science, Technology, Mathematics benefiting from our imagination operating in high overdrive because we read Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin and Richard Dawkins and the Bible and James Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald and Walt Whitman. Books provide the fuel for our minds to touch the heavens, to realize our greatest promise, and potential, to fulfill the prophecy of Genesis that we would become gods on the earth.
Humanity’s Intellectual Property we embedded into the form of this entity we call the book.
Bob Brown – The Readies
When the first motion pictures came out in the 1920’s, Bob Brown, a writer from Chicago in the US, became one of the first script writers. He watched the first movie with sound, and labelled talking movies ‘the talkies’. It spurred him to write a famous book that he titled ‘The Readies’, in 1930, about the fate of books given this new revolution in movies, film and photography. This book Michael Hart read, which inspired him to invent the ebook.
But The Readies painted a fictional world where the book format became a reading machine, rather than an electronic book available on the – then unknown – Internet. The Readies is the fiction book that furnished and provided the e-reader machine template to Jeff Bezos at Amazon to invent the Kindle, and to Steve Jobs at Apple to invent the Ipad, and in Canada, the Kobo.
Here’s a quote, which The New York Times published out of Brown’s book, The Readies, in a 2010 article it tilted ‘The Godfather of the E-Reader’: “The written word hasn’t kept up with the age. The movies have outmaneuvered it. We have the talkies, but as yet no Readies. Writing has been bottled up in books since the start. It is time to pull out the stopper” and begin “a bloody revolution of the word.” Brown wrote this in 1930, when movies emerged out of silent movie age into movies with sound. Today, Brown’s words echo with relevant lament, 90 years after he wrote them.
Vannevar Bush – As We May think
Our journey into the book and its deep relationship with knowledge and civilization and progress takes us to a fascinating character, Vannevar Bush. Bush led the US’s research and development work that produced the nuclear bomb that annihilated Japanese cities Nagasaki and Hiroshima in World War II.
In 1945, after the War, Bush published a paper titled ‘As We May Think’, which imagined a ficitonal machine he called the memex. Bush spent a lot of time writing about a future where Mankind would be able to store, share and record information with ease and widespread circulation. His memex machine described ideas that imagined what we know today as the mouse, the keyboard and the computer CPU.
In the 1980’s when Micrsoft’s Bill Gates wrote the world’s first software programme for personal computers, which he called Disk Operating System, DOS, while on contract with IBM, he used Bush’s ‘As We May Think’ ideas – which he read in university before dropping out to write DOS – to invent the world’s first personal computer, the IBM PC, running DOS, which evolved to Windows 10 today. Soon, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak invented the Mackintosh personal computers. With Gates’ and Jobs’ work, the global digital revolution took off, and Michael Hart jumped on board with his ebook invention.
Doug Englebart – Augmenting Human Intelligence
Bush’s paper, ‘As We May Think’, generated enormous interest in the budding computer age emerging out of the intense research and development that went into inventing the nuclear and hydrogen bombs. One scholar, Doug Englebart, got so excited with Bush’s memex fantasy world that he wrote his own paper, and in it fleshed out the mouse, keyboard and hardware and software system of the personal computer. Englebart’s 1962 paper, titled ‘Augmenting Human Intelligence’, imagined our world as we see it today – with Artificial Intelligence, smart robots, the Internet of Things, smartphones, ubiquitous personal computing and glitzy screens everywhere. He dreamed of the optimal impact of computers on humanity; the augmentation of human intelligence.
However, despite the astounding, fantastic, futuristic nature of the digital revolution, the development of human intelligence remains a seeming distant dream. In fact, mainstream society worries that robots would take over jobs and lead to massive unemployment. Experts warn that AI already could do all the work that humans now do. Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Google all invest heavily in AI, creating a brand new future for us, within our lifetime. Yet, others – like Elon Musk of Tesla – warn of the dire future that could emerge from AI disrupting how humans live and exist.
One reason that AI, robots and the Internet of Things foster fear and trepidation, anxiety and even depression for the average person, may be because this Age of Knowledge fails to achieve Englebart’s deep dream: the augmentation of human intellect.
Looking close into the immense research and development work that underlined the technology revolution, we decipher one glaring theme: we fail to augment human intellect because we fail to innovate on the form and style and readability of the book. The book as an entity seems caught in a static mold in its current form, style, function and readability since the invention of the Gutenberg printing press – back in the year 1440.
Today, in this 21st century, our singular imperative is to innovate on this magical golden grail, the book, if we are to lift humanity to the vision that Englebart dreamed of in 1962, after encountering the astonishing world that Vannevar Bush imagined as possible.
Michael Hart took Englebart seriously, and invented the ebook in 1971, 47 years ago. But Hart’s invention, as we approach the 50 year mark since his book revolution, remains locked in the same flat, gray, one-dimensional format as Gutenberg’s Bible in the 1500’s.
In other words, the lament of Bob Brown in his 1930 book, The Readies, today, in 2018, remains our lament, fantasy, imagined possibility. Let’s repeat Brown’s words: “The written word hasn’t kept up with the age. The movies have outmaneuvered it. We have the talkies, but as yet no Readies. Writing has been bottled up in books since the start. It is time to pull out the stopper” and begin “a bloody revolution of the word.”
Given the evolution of communications technology and multimedia development, we’re now able to innovate on Hart’s ebook format. We face three possible futures with human intelligence: a perpetuation of history’s division, schism, structural misalignment, where knowledge elites rule over the ignorant masses; or a world where we all fall behind, ignoring the vast accumulation of knowledge and intelligence and imaginative beauty coded within the world’s books; or a global village that learns how to augment human intelligence, where every person who graces this planet earth becomes intelligent, smart, a knowledge worker, a person of Intellectual Property, a human resource capital asset for his or her smarts, talents, life-knowledge.
For us to achieve our true potential, where every person contributes to the collective global brain, we must examine how we could lift the entity that is the book from its 600 year form, into a multimedia ecosystem of knowledge. For that is what the book has always been: the embodiment of story, original ideas, insights, understanding, wisdom, information, motivation and inspiration, record, our collective memory, generational bridge to enhancing civilization. Movies, music, stage drama, and other communications means do not provide such a rich platform of humanity’s soul floating freely in the world. Even Shakespeare’s plays would be lost to us without the book entity.
So, we face a simple choice: we must propel the form of the book forward. And in thinking of this, we must take a leaf from Hart’s playbook. Hart innovated on the book to invent the ebook because he understood that the book could exist without its historical dependence on the printing press. With hypertext and electronic screens, he imagined the book as a new entity, which he called the e-book. He did what he could in 1971, because communication technology was in its infancy back then.
Alphabet, Binary, Music
Today, with the vast possibilities of communications technology, we could truly innovate on the book, and thus open up a rich channel for every human being to play in the exciting reservoir of human creativity, human imagination, human originality, and human knowledge and ideas.
Hart took Englebart seriously, and sought to augment human intelligence, but failed to fulfill Bob Brown’s dream. How did Hart innovate on the book entity?
Hart unhinged the book from the printing press, and combined two forms of language systems to the book.
Since the invention of Writing, Mankind developed two forms of communication technology: the alphabet, and numbers. With the advent of the computer age, starting with Bush’s 1945 paper, ‘As We May Think’, and his imagining of a hypertext system for storage and linking of memory and information, we developed a third form of communication method: binary programming language, which Bill Gates developed with his invention, the programming language BASIC with which he wrote DOS and programmed the first personal computer at IBM.
Hart succeeded to invent the ebook because he unhinged the book from the printing presss, and hooked up this entity of the alphbet with the binary world of computers. Binary uses 1 and 0 – on and off electrical switches on circuit boards within the CPU of computers, organized into regristries and Internet Protocols and other location “addresses” – to flash lights on the screen. Programming uses bites and bites – sequences of 1’s and 0’s – on and off microswitches – to form letters of the alphabet, and numbers and symbols. Lights form pixels on the viewing screen or monitor, allowing for videos, pictures and images to be displayed.
Books became ebooks because of this merging of communication methods – the alphabet and binary langauge.
But that has been operating since 1971, and today, worldwide, people perfer the color-glamour of videos and music and even sound, to the flat gray, one-dimensional ebooks. Ebooks, then, remain alphabet specimen, with the binary language hinged to it merely for easy access and wiespread transmission.
However, this fails to attract the masses of humanity to read Mankind’s great works, our books of lasting legacy: ebooks fail to attract us to consume them and thus augment our intelligence.
Here’s what happened to music and movies, but not with books: Movies, now popular on the global corporate platform Netflix, followed the pattern that music followed to capture the imagination of global humanity.
In the 1980’s, the American popstar music icon, Michael Jackson, pioneered the Music Video, merging sound with video, bringing his dancing and stage performances to his music. His performances became mesmerizing on TV, with the weekly programme, Soul Train, capturing a global audience.
With the advent of the Internet, Music videos took off, resulting in YouTube’s embeddedness into the global culture today.
Movies followed that revolution in music, and merged captivating background music and sound to moving pictures. This multimedia innovation in music and the development of movies captured the world’s imagination. But not books, because the entity of the book remained silent, flat, static.
Ecosystem of Intelligence, with IP as Economic Model
Yet, it’s the book that remains humanity’s bastion of intelligence, and Intellectual Property for substance of knowledge, and the playground for original insights, creative solutions, imaginative excursions into human possibilities.
The entity of the book, in fact, makes for a dynamic ecosystem of knowledge, Personal Intellectual Property (IP), and it promises to be the golden grail that will lift humanity to the vision of Bob Brown to revolutionize the word, and Englebart’s dream to augment the intellect of every human who graces this earth.
How could we accomplish that today?
Enter the qualped simsbook.
What is the book? That’s a significant question we must ask ourselves in this day and age. If the book is humanity’s bastion of knowledge, our reservoir of intelligence, our storehouse of Intellectual Property, how could we excite the human race in this and coming generations to embrace, love, consume and be one with it? Why would any person want to love reading, writing, and sharing, through this entity we call the book?
It’s well and good to raise these issues, but what could we do to solve the problem? We invented the qualped simsbook as our answer to these questions.
The book no longer needs to remain flat, static, boring. We could add not only binary to the book, but also the language of music, and full multimedia. We could use available communications technology to exalt the book as a multimedia entity that becomes simple multimedia smartbook.
The qualped simsbook results from research and development that looked not at what the book is, but what the book could become.
The book has always been the seed of human knowledge. We plant that seed into the minds of people through the education system, and with entertaining reading of story books. What does this idea of the book as a seed mean today? In the agricultural society of old, the book as seed worked well, because the minds of people furnished fertile ground for reading. Today, the glitz and glamour of multimedia fills the mind of the masses, leaving little room for them to give attention to the book: people want an entire ecosystem of information, knowledge and entertainment these days, not only a seed that they have to plow through.
The qualped simsbook is exactly this ecosystem of knowledge and personal Intellectual Property.
Here’s what it means to “augment human intelligence” in this 21st century global village: for each human being to be able, motivated, equipped to convert his or her innate and developed Intellectual Property (IP) – that legal ownership of property – into an ecosystem of knowledge that’s easily transmitted around the world. Every human being should be able, in today’s high-tech world, to package, design, trade his or her smarts, as a lifetime lifestyle.
So each person packages personal smarts into the seed that is a book manuscript, and plays with this, nurturing, cultivating, grooming it into a plant that flowers out to bear fruit far and wide: an ecosystem of IP.
Here’s what that looks like, with the starting point of the book as an entity being a raw manuscript:
Range of IP products, developed from the one manuscript:
Qualped simsbook book application, traded globally on Qualped simsbooks online platform
Print book, printed on-demand
Soft cover book, printed on-demand
DVD & YouTube channel of book topic
Blog site with Social Media tools dedicated to the published book
If applicable, online Course site/Digital College
Brand-products that promote the central idea of the manuscript
Seminar and Conference package, if applicable to the idea of the Brand
Speaking Tour package
We see the book as a convergence of every facet of communications technology, a full multimedia ecosystem of knowledge, a manuscript that flowers out in all direction, bearing fruits of exponential influence across geography and generations: the human being becomes one with the book – as much as we’re one with clothes, shelter, shoes. Without our life as a living, dynamic, organic book, we would be imconplete as human beings. That’s what it means to augment human intelligence.
This view kicks against the radically different ideal of people like Ray Kurzweil, who is developing his Singularity system, with massive funding from Google, the US Government, Microsoft, Amazon and global thinktanks. Kurzweil wants to engineer the augmenting of human intellect with a fusion of biological humanity with a biomicroprocessor, merging Man and Machine into a superior hybrid being.
Our goal to enhance the book, to innovate on the ebook, to evolve this historic entity that’s done so much for humanity, is a simple, smart, super solution to the situation of the common human being not benefitting from the astonishing rise of knowledge in this 21st century Age of Knowledge.
Doug Englebart in his 1962 paper, Augmenting Human Intellect, dreamed this dream for humanity: “By augmenting human intellect we mean increasing the capability of man to approach complex problem situations to gain comprehension to suit his particular needs and to derive solutions to problems he faces. Increased capability in this respect is taken to mean mixture of the following: more rapid comprehension; better comprehension; the possibility of gaining useful degree of comprehension in situations that previously was too complex; speedier solutions; better solutions and the possibility of finding solutions to problems that before seemed insoluble. … The entire effect of an individual on the world stems essentially from what he can transmit to the world”.
With our re-invention of the book, we set out to rewrite humanity’s future. We want to evoke, motivate, inspire, excite action in the heart of people all over the world to take ownership of this entity, the book, which did so much to open up freedom, popular democracy, human rights, personal empowerment, and fuelled civilization’s astonishing leap in progress over the past five hundred years. We want people everywhere to use the tool of the book to rewrite our future as knowledge beings gracing the earth, and be people of story, understanding, wisdom, insights, intelligence.
Nowhere more pressing is this need than in the world’s universities. In every major university around the world, Master’s and Doctorate thesis manuscripts sit cloaked in opaque Laitinate English, unreachable for the masses of humanity.
So our first task is to take these manuscripts, as many theses as we could, and convert them into qualped simsbooks – simple mutlimedia smartbooks, ecosystems of easily accessible knowledge available on the world stage.
Here’s what Vannevar Bush said about this challenge in his 1945 paper, ‘As We May Think’: “Professionally our methods of transmitting and reviewing the results of research are generations old and by now are totally inadequate. If the aggregate time spent in writing scholarly works and in reading them could be evaluated, the ratio between these amounts of time might well be startling. Those who conscientiously attempt to keep abreast of current thought, even in restricted fields, by close and continuous reading might well shy away from an examination calculated to show how much of the previous month’s efforts could be produced on call. Mendel’s concept of the laws of genetics was lost to the world for a generation because his publication did not reach the few who were capable of grasping and extending it; and this sort of catastrophe is undoubtedly being repeated all about us, as truly significant attainments become lost in the mass of the inconsequential. … The summation of human experience is being expanded at a prodigious rate, and the means we use for threading through the consequent maze to the momentarily important item is the same as was used in the days of square-rigged ships”.
With simple multimedia smartbooks, simsbooks, we’re setting out to rewrite humanity’s future. Let’s rewrite our future. Let’s rescue this hero of humanity, the book, from its depressing current state at the bottom of communications technology, and, like Michael Jackson lifted music to a new form with musicvideos, let’s lift the book to its rightful place as the key to unlock Mankind’s true creative genius, our genie of knowledge hiding within pages of books in public libraries and in ebooks everywhere in the world, which the masses ignore and refuse to embrace.
We could continue traversing our current path, stumbling into our default future, not caring that the book may fall away into the dustbin of history. But the book saved us from stumbling into a history of nobles vs commoners and ruler vs peasants. With the book we rewrote humanity’s future, and now comunications technology opens up the opportunity for us to choose to evolve this wonderful ecosystem and reservoir and bastion of human knowledge into its full potential.
Bob Brown, Vannevar Bush, Doug Englebart, these dreamed and imagined and wrote that their imaginary blueprint of that new future for us. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos built the system and hardware products. It’s time we step up to overturn that default future and rewrite our future, the narrative of human existence. In this 21st century Age of Knowledge, let’s rewrite humanity’s future, together, one simsbook at a time.
Bob Brown wrote this in 1930 in his book, ‘The Readies’, and it rings true today: “I’m for new methods of reading and writing and I believe the up-to-date reader deserves an eye-ful when he buys something to read. I think the optical end of the written word has been hidden over a bushel too long. I’m out for a bloody revolution of the word…. The world is again threatened by an Uncivil War. My answer to a Revolution of the Word is emphatically Yes… I know words can do anything, become anything, all I hold out for is more and better reading of the words we’ve got. … Writing must become more optical, more eye-teasing, more eye-tasty, to give the word its due and tune-in on the age. Books are antiquated word containers.” With ebook, Hart sought to make books a household access. With simsbook, let’s lift this astonishing entity, the book, to its true potential as humanity’s reservoir of Intellectual Property.
We dance with the entity we call the book simply because it stands out in history as the singular most important technology to endow us with equality, freedom, human rights, to erase the divisions, schisms and class distinctions that oppressed so many multitudes of people for so many millennia. Let’s rewrite our future, with our new play book. Contact author here.