| web | education | creative commons |

We have all heard of wikipedia , most college students use it as the number one reference for “citing” “sources” in their “research” papers. (Sorry to be so cynical, just pointing out an observation).

I do not want to necessarily look down upon or discredit wikipedia, I think it is a wonderful project, a great resource, and is aligned with my open personal moral and ethical beliefs that all people should have free, unlimited access to information about any topic.

“Wikipedia is something special. It is like a library or a public park. It is like a temple for the mind. It is a place we can all go to think, to learn, to share our knowledge with others. It is a unique human project, the first of its kind in history. It is a humanitarian project to bring a free encyclopedia to every single person on the planet.” -Jimmy Wales (Founder of Wikipedia)

But, unfortunately many faculty members at universities see wikipedia as the same idea of a geocities site - where anyone can just get on and write whatever they want regardless of their credentials, credibility, etc. Wikipedia is slightly more sophisticated than that, and in my personal view provides a strong alternative to a proprietary encyclopedia. The Wiki model relies on the community to monitor content that is presented, and subject matter experts donate their time and expertise in order to provide information on a given topic. Many things are cited, so in a sense it is no less credible than any other textbook or encyclopedia entry.

However, this is not even the topic of this particular blog post, so I am not entirely sure why I just went on a rant about it. The thing that I really want to write about is WikiBooks. I have browsed through the wikimedia family of wiki’s several times just to see what they were all about but have never actually looked into the book section.

I just need to say, that it is amazing how much wonderful content and books there are out there on wikibooks. I am stunned and cant wait to dig deeper, read some more, and perhaps even one day contribute to the completion of some of the works in progress.

Any college student will tell you how much of a burden it is to buy textbooks, they are very expensive and it is not clear why they are so expensive. Some of them are very large and the cost of printing a hardcover book cannot be cheap so I will give credit there, but what about ebooks? Why are ebooks just as expensive (if not $10-20 cheaper) than their hard bound counterparts. Do not even get me started on DRM and crap ebook programs like coursesmart - where you do not even OWN the copy of the book you just paid $100 dollars for (it expires after 6 months).

After exploring wikibooks in depth I feel so reassured that knowledge will no longer be kept in the hands of the wealthy, while the poor scramble over the last tattered and outdated copy of “Introduction to BASIC” at their local public library. Wikibooks are AWESOME.

Some of them are original contributions that have been create specifically for this project, and others are donated to wikipedia and released under a GPL (for texbooks) and creative commons license.

I have added a list to this blog (bottom right hand side) of useful, COMPLETE, free, computer science based text books. While it will be a long time before these books will be considered for use inside an actual classroom - it does not mean that they are useful. In fact they can be very useful if you are studying for an exam such as CLEP or just want to learn a new subject for your personal enjoyment. Many of these books are available in PDF format so it is easy read them on both mobile and stationary devices.

Check out Wikibooks - some of my favorites are on the list to the right (bottom of page), read some, contribute to some, share them, and donate to the wikimedia foundation so that they can continue to spread knowledge throughout the world.

Thank you for reading! Share your thoughts with me on mastodon or via email.

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