Ciro Santilli
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Mission: live in a world where you can learn university-level mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and engineering for free whenever you want from perfect open source books made for free by random people who want to get famous to get better paying jobs.
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In this project, Ciro Santilli wants to explore if it is possible to create a sustainable website that will make learners (notably university students taking courses) write freely licensed university-level natural science books for free.
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Ciro is looking for:
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The initial incentive for the creators is to make them famous and allow them to get more fulfilling jobs more easily, although Ciro also wants to add money transfer mechanisms to it later on.
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We can't rely on teachers writing materials, because they simply don't have enough incentive: publication count is all that matters to their careers. The students however, are desperate to prove themselves to the world, and therefore will do a lot of free work for the fame reward.
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Ciro envisions this as a Wikipedia-like website, but where:
  • each user can have their own version of each page which cannot be edited without their permission, e.g. only cirosantilli can edit http://elearning.com/cirosantilli/mathematics
  • you can copy and modify other users' pages, since Creative Commons license will be mandatory. You can also make suggestions to their page if you want to.
  • each page has an issue tracker/comment section at the bottom to allow for sane discussion about the subject. As opposed to Wikipedia's unusable talk pages.
  • more granular pages than Wikipedia: every single header has its own page/metadata, no matter how specific the topic it covers is
  • you can upvote and downvote the headers/pages
If you are a software engineer, you can see that this is basically a cross between Wikipedia, GitHub and Stack Exchange.
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Here for example, John decided:
  • to remove limit-mathematics from his tree
  • add derivative to his tree
  • keep intuition-behind-the-reimann-integral at Ciro's version
  • modify mathematics, riemann-integral and physics to his liking
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The key intended technical innovation of the website is a PageRank-like algorithm that answers the key questions:
However, Ciro has decided to leave this for phase two action plan.
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Many subjects have changed very little in the last hundred years, and so it is mind-blowing that people have to pay for books that teach them!
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More than that however, if such project succeeds, it could fundamentally change the way university is organized, enormously improving its efficiency.
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It could destroy the current educational system and replace it by one that lets people choose what they want to learn, which basically implies that a much large proportion of students get a de-facto gifted education.
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Ciro decided to start with a decent markup language with a decent implementation: Cirodown. Once that gets reasonable, he will move on to another attempt at the website itself.
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If computers are bicycles for the mind, Ciro wants this website to be the Ferrari of the mind.
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This project is likely to fail. It could become the TempleOS of wikis. It might be an impossible attempt at a lifestyle business. But Ciro is beyond caring now. It must be done.
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In some ways, Ciro wants the website to feel like a video game, where you fluidly interact with headers, comments and their metadata. If game developers can achieve impressively complicated game engines, why can't we achieve a decent amazing elearning website? :-)
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Ciro predicts that the general organic user acquisition will go as follows:
  • Google into rare specific subject
  • look around, then login/create account with OAuth to leavea a comment or upvote
  • notice that you can fork anything
  • mind = KABOOM
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Ancestors

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