A major difficulty of getting such this to work is that may university teachers want to retain closed copyright of their work because they:
- want to publish a book later and get paid. Yes, the root problem is that teachers get paid way too little and have way too little job security for the incredibly important and difficult extremely difficult job they are doing, and we have to vote to change that
- are afraid that if amazing material is made freely available, then they would not be needed and lose their jobs. Once again, job security issue.
- believe that if anyone were allowed to touch their precious content, those people would just "screw it up" and make it worse
- don't even want to publish their notes online because "someone will copy it and take their credit". What a mentality! In order to prevent a theft, you are basically guaranteeing that your work will be completely forgotten!
- don't want students to read the notes and skip class, because spoken word has magic properties and imparts knowledge that cannot otherwise conveyed by a book
- are afraid that mistakes will be found in their material. Reputation is of course everything in academia, since there is no money.So it's less risky to have closed, more buggy notes, than open, more correct ones.This can be seen clearly for example on Physics Stack Exchange, and most notably in particle physics (well, which is basically the only subject that really gets asked, since anything more experimental is going to be blocked off by patents/interlab competition), where a large proportion incredibly amazing users have anonymous profiles.They prefer to get no reputation gains from their amazing contributions, due to the fear that a single mistake will ruin their career.This is in stark contrast for example to Stack Overflow, where almost all top users are not anonymous:List of top users: https://physics.stackexchange.com/users?tab=Reputation&filter=all and some notable anonymous ones:
Therefore the only way is to find teachers who are:
The forced option therefore seems like a more bulk efficient starting point for searches.
- enlightened to use such licenses
- forced by their organizations to use such licenses
No matter how much effort a single person puts into writing perfect tutorials, they will never beat 1000x people + an algorithm.
It is not simply a matter of how much time you have. The fundamental reason is that each person has a different background and different skills. Notably the young students have radically different understanding than that of the experienced teacher.
Therefore, those that refuse to contribute to such platforms, or at least license their content with open licenses, will inevitably have their work forgotten in favor of those that have contributed to the more open platform, which will eventually dominate everything.
Perhaps OurBigBook.com is not he killer platform that will make this happen. Perhaps the world is not yet ready for it. But Ciro believes that this will happen, sooner or later, inevitable, and he wants to give it a shot.
Some possible/not possible sources that could be used to manually bootstrap content:
- LibreTexts. Good project. "Teacher-only-content" unfortunately as usual. But besides that fundamental flaw, they do exactly what we want to do in a sense.
- OpenStax: CC BY. This could be a great entry point, as they already have some university integration going on, and might be interested in this project.
- https://github.com/vEnhance/napkin: CC BY-SA mathematics infinite book: https://github.com/vEnhance/napkin/issues/77. Very similar type of content to what we want in this project!
- https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/6157/list-of-freely-available-physics-books "List of freely available physics books" explicitly asks for:
a list of physics books with open-source licenses, like Creative Commons, GPLbut the thread was locked, and basically none of the sources in the answers have free licenses, nor do they note it. It just seems that the physicists don't know what a free license is.
- MIT OpenCourseWare: CC BY-NC-SA, so not really usable
- https://open.ed.ac.uk/about/: talk only
- https://github.com/certik/theoretical-physics: MIT License. Workable but wonky.
- https://subwiki.org/: wiki with some upper graduate math subjects presumably by this Indian dude: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vipul-naik-0ab1898/. Description on his homepage: https://vipulnaik.com/subwiki/. He's also got other interesting but not so relevant projects:He's also into Stack Overflow, Quora and Wikipedia editing. That's a cool dude. He's into in LessWrong it seems.
Also worth checking:
- https://jornal.usp.br/universidade/usp-de-sao-carlos-oferece-aulas-de-graduacao-em-matematica-e-estatistica-abertas-ao-publico/ "Open Classroom" program from the University of São Paulo. We should Google for "Open Classroom" a bit more actually.