Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Education as commodity

Thousands of students pay hefty fees for a seat in a private college, only to have their dreams shattered

An angry parent barges into the room of the director of a large private institute of higher education. She flings her son's grade sheet on the director's desk and wants to know why the grades are so low. The director begins by explaining the student could have worked harder, but is rudely cut short. “Did we not pay the fee? How dare you mess with the grade?“ The parent is seething, even as the director remains conciliatory. The ugly face of marketisation and commoditisation of education is on full display.

Market forces are not the answer to all human problems. But market mechanisms have crept into so much of our lives that we don't question ethics or effects. Educational institutions are run like corporations, applying management techniques to make them profitable. In theory, being exposed to market forces would compel an enterprise to be efficient with resources, innovative, competitive and tuned to the needs of the customer. But converting students (and parents) into customers alters how education as a service is delivered, and how institutions are set up and managed.

Markets require a definition of the product or service. Education, which should be seen as fostering creativity , innovation, leadership and critical thinking, is reduced to a commodity that ensures a job. Students enrol for a qualification, and since they want to “have“ the degree, stamp, marksheet or qualification, they narrow the definition of what is expected for the fee paid. The cost is thus reduced to the present value of the future earning potential of the degree.Mushrooming of engineering and medical colleges serve the “demand“ for this qualification from the market. In this market, whether there is a job at the end of the course is all that matters.

Second, the commodification of education leads to a proliferation of measurable standards of performance. Educational institutions use metrics such as pass percentage, placement track record, ranking in league tables and student approval ratings to compete with one an other. These measurements then drive the internal performance of teachers and administrators. The communication and marketing tactics of educational institutions also focus on these metrics, which soon become the narrowly defined standards for evaluating an institution. There are severe limits to quantifying attributes that are fundamentally qualitative.

Third, treating the parent who typically pays and the student who enrols, as “customers“ modifies the relationship from one of authority to one of defensive appeasement. Research on how this transformation impacts student-teacher relationship shows alarming trends: grades are not strict; teachers work with an eye on student ratings; examinations are simpler; curricula is not rigorous; recommendations are sugar-coated and flattering of students is unabashed.

Fourth, the market for education attracts players with profit-making motives and administrative skills, since delivering a commodity at a price is not an industry with high entry barriers.The proliferation of private educational institutions in India, where steep fees are collected to churn worthless graduates is testimony to the harmful effects of marketisation of education.

Hoards enrol into programmes paying a high fee, acquiring qualifications that do not serve much purpose. Young men and women leave villages to pursue degrees that do not get them jobs, and are unable to return to farmlands to earn as much as an unlettered labourer. Many are burdened with loans they are unable to pay. Of what use is a job that pays `15,000 a month after a 5-year course in dentistry , that costs `50 lakh to complete?

The commoditised market-oriented educational model that is so rampant is a scam, as it systematically milks customers of money and offers little in return.

But there is hope. The biggest dichotomy is the conflicting objectives of the parent and the student. The parent pays and therefore chooses course and college on behalf of the student, who may not always have enough information or resources to make an independent choice.However, the consequences of the worthless degree are borne by the students who have begun to protest. Many youngsters modify professional pursuits after their first few thankless jobs, while a courageous few venture to become entrepreneurs. Engineers take up organic farming; software professionals take up music and art--small but useful beginnings.

There is no denying the failure of the market for education. Given the amount of money made by the sharks in the name of higher education, it will be a tough breaking the back of vested interests. Before the cycle turns, we may have suffered severe damage and costs. When I walked out of the director's office to address the seminar I was invited to, I saw the bright faces of young men and women and worried about who was fooling them--parents? teachers? or society itself ? Then one of them asked me if markets were efficient.

Source | Times of India | 19 September 2016

Five museums from India among top 25 in Asia: Report

Leh’s ‘Hall of Fame’ has topped the India list as a "must-visit" place by travellers in a survey.
Five Indian museums feature among the best 25 in Asia while Leh’s ‘Hall of Fame’ has topped the India list as a “must-visit” place by travellers in a survey.

The other top four most rated museums of India are — Bagore Ki Haveli (Udaipur), Victoria Memorial Hall (Kolkata), Salar Jung Museum (Hyderabad) and Jaisalmer War Museum (Jaisalmer).

Darshan Museum (Pune), Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures (Shillong), Heritage Transport Museum (Taoru), Siddhagiri Museum (Kolhapur), and Gandhi Smriti (New Delhi) also figure in the top-10 list for India.

TripAdvisor will honour the ranked museums with its Travellers’ Choice awards.

The list was determined using an algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for museums worldwide, gathered over a 12-month period, it said.

No museums from India feature in the top 25 world list, which is topped by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It is followed by Art Institute of Chicago, State Hermitage Museum and Winter Palace, Musee d’Orsay, Paris and National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico.

The Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horse in China topped the Asia list.

“Museums provide a passageway into the history and culture of a place and the Travellers’ Choice awards for Museums are a ready reckoner for travellers keen to enrich their knowledge about the cities they travel to,” said Nikhil Ganju, the company’s country manager in India.

Source | The Hindu | 19 September 2016

Lessons beyond the classroom

Kalam Libraries all over India including Gujarat, Delhi, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh,”
Author Srijan Pal Singh begins his book What Can I Give: Life lessons from My Teacher by saying, “Throughout the rest of 2008, and till my graduation from IIM-A in April 2009, I was in regular touch with Dr Kalam over email and occasional phone calls. We would discuss the topic that we had chosen for research during class —providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA).” Srijan’s inspiration behind the book is to bring forth the values of Dr Kalam as seen from the inside — and let readers discover what made him the person we adore.

His philosophy of always asking — ‘What Can I Give’ inspired the title and much of the content of the book. “His humility, impeccable dedication to integrity, and his ability to let go of short term opportunities for lifelong values influenced me the most. It is a composition from personal experiences I had with Dr Kalam — working with him, learning from him while travelling to many different places across the world,” states Srijan.

Dr Kalam always gave a mission to everyone — that of a home library. “He made people take an oath about this — and stressed on the emphasis of it. He told the youth about the importance of reading. His philosophy was that a great society is built upon knowledge-driven citizens. Hence, to take forward his mission to give every youth access to the best of books, my team and I started the Kalam Library Project. This mission strives to start community-driven libraries across the nation, especially in villages and in urban under-developed economic zones. These libraries are completely free and operate in multiple stages — Trishul, Prithvi and Agni. With the resources from the book What Can I Give and a few friends of the Project, we have established 25 Kalam Libraries all over India including Gujarat, Delhi, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh,” shares Srijan.

An ardent believer of Kalam’s works, Srijan has penned three books with Dr Kalam. Talking about his three books, he adds, “Target 3 Billion (Penguin, 2011) is based on our research work on rural development and innovative solutions to address issues of poverty across the world. Roughly half of the world (3 billion people) is living in moderate or extreme poverty, hence, the name of the book. Reignited (Penguin, 2015) was targeted towards younger readers. It was an account of how the world will shape in terms of science of technology, and how can the youth position their careers in a changing world. Advantage India (2015) was Dr Kalam’s final book. It was an account of our ideas on the path India needs to take in its quest to become an economic superpower and a socially equitable nation.”

When Srijan is not writing or researching on his books, he likes to let his hair down by spending time with kids, who are the future of our nation. “I enjoy interacting with children and sharing their ideas. I also love playing the drums and reading about history and science,” he shares.

Source | http://www.asianage.com/life-and-style/lessons-beyond-classroom-521
3D printers are changing the way kids learn

Whether it's printing a prism to understand geometry or a skateboard to figure out friction, students can now bring lessons to life

On a Wednesday morning at Maurya School in Palam Vihar, Gurgaon, eighth grader Kunal Arora is busy creating a three-dimensional model of a human cell. “We just learnt cell structure in science class and I want to see it in 3D to get an idea of how it really looks,“ says Arora.

In the lab where he's working, other materialized `printouts' are scattered around -a beyblade, a keyboard, the Taj Mahal, a turbine engine and an octopus.

Goodbye cardboard cutouts, hello 3D printing. The model-making technology that allows anyone to create anything, has finally made it to Indian classrooms. The elite variety, of course, since though the prices of 3D printers have fallen ¬ most now start at around Rs 1 lakh -they're still not for your average school.

But a few like Kunskapsskolan and Maurya in Gurgaon, Pathways-Noida and the Global Indian International School in Pune are training students to apply 3D printing to both curricular and extra-curricular subjects. Alfred Philips, a trainer with 3Dexter, a company that has designed the 3D printing curriculum for Maurya School, says 3D printing can help kids understand their class lessons better. It lets them create three-dimensional solid objects from digital models with the help of a printer that lays down layer upon layer of a special material. “For example, to see a practical demonstration of a physics concept like friction, we ask students to make a skate-board. To understand `sound', they can make a musical instrument like guitar,“ he explains.

Given a choice, most children would rather use this technology to bring their favourite fairy-talecartoongaming character to `life'. Ten-year-old Anvi Sehrawat created a tiny Angry Bird using the 3D printer at her school in Gurgaon. Explaining the various steps involved, she said she started with drawing the character on the computer using a modelling software. To create the bird's beak, she drew a triangle on the computer screen and pulled it up with a tool so that it became a three-dimensional beak. Sehrawat, who studies at Kunskapsskolan, is planning a dinosaur head next.

Unlike France where schools are making an innovative use of 3D printers by using a printable clitoris to teach children sex ed, Indians are playing safe with science and maths.
Kunal Bhadoo, CEO Kunskapsskolan, says the technology is especially useful for grasping scientific and mathematical concepts. “They can actually see how a cube is a 3D square, prism a 3D triangle or `hold' the earth's crust in their hands to understand its various layers,“ he explains. It's not schools alone that are keen on the new technology , but parents too. “The push is also coming from parents who are tech-smart and want their children to be too,“ adds Bhadoo.

Raunak Singhi, marketing head, 3Dex er, says the company is working in six schools this academic year and 15 more across India are in the pipeline.

Novabeans, a 3D printing solutions irms, has already set labs in Kunskapsskolan and Pathways, schools in Pune and Chandigarh are next. While middle and high school students work on more complex 3D printing software, younger children are encouraged to use 3D pens. A 3D pen has a plastic `ink'. Once connected to a power source, the pen heats up the plastic ink turning it to a viscous gel. You squeeze it out, it cools down and solidifies into any shape.For example, to make a cube, draw a square with the pen and keep adding more squares on top of it. It's exciting to see a three-dimensional object taking shape, just like a vase on a potter's wheel. The trick lies in controlling the movement of the pen.
At Global Indian International School, Chinchwad-Pune, kindergarten students use the pens to create simple objects like flowers and necklaces. “We have three printers and plan to get a chocolate and food grade printer next,“ says Reshma Shaikh, activity head at GISS Pune.

Source | Times of India | 18 September 2016

Harvard launches evidence library for imaging

A new resource from Harvard Medical School aims to help doctors make more informed decisions on imaging tests.

The school has launched its Library of Evidence, a publicly accessible digital repository of data outlining when to use which test. Initially focused on imaging, plans call for expanding the library to support other evidence-based tools, including lab tests and other medical procedures.

“The Library of Evidence is an important step toward organizing what is known to help advance the goal of evidence-based practice in a concrete way," Ramin Khorasani, Harvard professor of radiology and vice chair of the Department of Radiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said in an announcement.

The healthcare industry spends as much as $11.95 billion on unnecessary imaging every year, according to one survey. And it’s not just about cutting unnecessary spending, but also ensuring that patients get the most appropriate tests.

While the HITECH Act requires the use of clinical decision support tools as part of certified electronic health records, a federal statute known as the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 requires ordering providers to consult physician-developed appropriateness criteria when prescribing advanced imaging procedures for Medicare patients. That requirement goes into effect Jan. 1.

In the library, recommendations from professional societies, local best practices and peer-reviewed literature are incorporated to develop scenarios that are then translated into HIT-friendly clinical logic that can be integrated into various clinical information systems.

The free library is available to clinicians worldwide.

Announcement Link | http://hms.harvard.edu/news/image-or-not

The secret libraries of history

After news emerged about an underground reading room in Damascus, Fiona Macdonald discovers the places where writing has been hidden for centuries.

Beneath the streets of a suburb of Damascus, rows of shelves hold books that have been rescued from bombed-out buildings. Over the past four years, during the siege of Darayya, volunteers have collected 14,000 books from shell-damaged homes. They are held in a location kept secret amid fears that it would be targeted by government and pro-Assad forces, and visitors have to dodge shells and bullets to reach the underground reading space.

It’s been called Syria’s secret library, and many view it as a vital resource. “In a sense the library gave me back my life,” one regular user, Abdulbaset Alahmar, told the BBC. “I would say that just like the body needs food, the soul needs books.”

Religious or political pressures have meant that books have been hidden throughout history – whether in secret caches or private collections. One of those is now known as ‘the Library Cave’.

The Library Cave

On the edge of the Gobi Desert in China, part of a network of cave shrines at Dunhuang called the Thousand Buddha Grottoes, it was sealed for almost 1000 years. In 1900, Taoist monk Wang Yuanlu – an unofficial guardian of the caves – discovered the hidden door that led to a chamber filled with manuscripts dating from the fourth to the 11th Centuries.

Provincial authorities showed little interest in the documents after Wang contacted them; but news of the cave spread, and Hungarian-born explorer Aurel Stein persuaded him to sell about 10,000 manuscripts. Delegations from France, Russia and Japan followed, and most of the ancient texts left the cave. According to The New Yorker, “By 1910, when the Chinese government ordered the remaining documents to be transferred to Beijing, only about a fifth of the original hoard remained.”

Despite that, many of the original manuscripts can now be seen: an initiative to digitise the collection was launched in 1994. The International Dunhuang Project – led by the British Library, with partners worldwide – means that, as The New Yorker says, “Armchair archive-divers can now examine the earliest complete star chart in the world, read a prayer written in Hebrew by a merchant on his way from Babylon to China, inspect a painting of a Christian saint in the guise of a bodhisattva, examine a contract drawn up for the sale of a slave girl to cover a silk trader’s debt, or page through a book on divination written in Turkic runes.”

No one knows why the cave was sealed: Stein argued that it was a way of storing manuscripts no longer used but too important to be thrown away, a kind of ‘sacred waste’, while French sinologist Paul Pelliot believed it happened in 1035, when the Xi Xia empire invaded Dunhuang. Chinese scholar Rong Xinjiang has suggested that the cave was closed off amid fears of an invasion by Islamic Karakhanids, which never occurred.

Whatever the reason they were originally hidden, the cave’s contents have altered history since they were revealed just over a century ago. One of the Dunhuang documents, the Diamond Sutra, is a key Buddhist sacred work: according to the British Library, the copy in the cave dates back to 868 and is “the world's earliest complete survival of a dated printed book”.

It’s a reminder that paper and printing did not originate in Europe. “Printing began as a form of prayer,” says The New Yorker, “the equivalent of turning a prayer wheel or slipping a note into the Western Wall in Jerusalem, but on an industrial scale.”

A wing and a prayer

The location of another hidden stash of religious texts has been known since it was founded in 1612 – yet that hasn’t stopped it being the subject of conspiracy theories. The Vatican Secret Archives feature papal correspondences going back more than 1000 years, and appeared in Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons, as a Harvard ‘symbologist’ battled the Illuminati. The rumoured contents of the collection include alien skulls, documentation of the bloodline of Jesus and a time machine called the Chronovisor, built by a Benedictine monk so that he could go back in time and film Jesus’ crucifixion.

In an attempt to dispel the myths, access has been opened up in recent years, and there was an exhibition of documents from the archives at the Capitoline Museums in Rome. Pope Leo XIII first allowed carefully vetted scholars to visit in 1881, and now many documents can be viewed by researchers – although browsing is prohibited. The word ‘secret’ in the name comes from the Latin ‘secretum’, which is closer to ‘private’; yet areas of the archives remain off-limits.

Scholars aren’t allowed to look at any papal papers since 1939, when the controversial wartime Pontiff Pius XII became Pope, and a section of the archives relating to the personal affairs of cardinals from 1922 onwards can’t be accessed.

Housed in a concrete bunker, part of a wing behind St Peter’s Basilica, the archives are protected by Swiss Guards and officers from the Vatican City’s own police force. They reinforce the power of the words held within. As well as correspondence between the Vatican and figures such as Mozart, Erasmus, Charlemagne, Voltaire and Adolf Hitler, there is King Henry VIII’s request to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon: when this was refused by Pope Clement VII, Henry divorced her and sparked Rome’s break with the Church of England. The archives also contain Pope Leo X’s 1521 decree excommunicating Martin Luther, a handwritten transcript of the trial against Galileo for heresy and a letter from Michelangelo complaining he hadn’t been paid for work on the Sistine Chapel.

Another brick in the wall

Not defended by armed guard but by centuries of forgetting, one collection in Old Cairo (Fustat), Egypt was left alone until a Romanian Jew recognised its significance. Jacob Saphir described the stash in an 1874 book – yet it wasn’t until 1896, when Scottish twin sisters Agnes Lewis and Margaret Gibson showed some of its manuscripts to fellow Cambridge University academic Solomon Schechter, that the trove became widely known.

Hidden in a wall of the Ben Ezra synagogue were almost 280,000 Jewish manuscript fragments: what has come to be called the Cairo Genizah. According to Jewish law, no writings containing the name of God can be thrown away: those that have fallen out of use are stored in an area of a synagogue or cemetery until they can be buried. The repository is known as a genizah, which comes from the Hebrew originally meaning ‘to hide away’, and later known as an ‘archive’.

For 1000 years, the Jewish community in Fustat deposited their texts in the sacred store. And the Cairo Genizah was left untouched. “Medieval Jews hardly wrote anything at all – whether personal letters or shopping lists – without referring to God,” says The New Yorker. As a result, “we have a frozen postbox of some two hundred and fifty thousand fragments composing an unparalleled archive of life in Egypt from the ninth to the nineteenth centuries… No other record as long or as full exists.”

Ben Outhwaite, the head of genizah research at Cambridge, told The New Yorker how important the Cairo Genizah collection is for scholars. “It is not hyperbole to talk about it as having rewritten what we knew of the Jews, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean in the Middle Ages.”

The fragments reveal that Jewish merchants collaborated with Christians and Muslims; that Jews were treated more tolerantly than previously assumed, and anti-Semitism was less common than thought. Their importance is increasingly being acknowledged. In 2013, the libraries of Oxford and Cambridge Universities joined together to raise funds to keep the collection intact – the first time they have worked together in this way.

At the time, David Abulafia, author of The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean, said: “The Cairo Genizah documents are like a searchlight, illuminating dark corners of the history of the Mediterranean and shedding a bright light on the social, economic and religious life of the Jews not just of medieval Egypt but of lands far away. There is nothing to compare with them as source for the history of the 10th to 12th Centuries, anywhere in Europe or the Islamic world.”

Between the lines

In 2013, the Dutch Medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel described ‘a remarkable discovery’ made by students in a class he taught at Leiden University. “While students were systematically going through the binding remains in the library,” he says in a blog post titled A Hidden Medieval Archive Surfaces, they found “132 notes, letters and receipts from an unidentified court in the Rhine region, jotted on little slips of paper. They were hidden inside the binding of a book printed in 1577”.

Rather than being ‘sacred waste’ too important to throw away, the fragments were examples of rubbish recycled by bookbinders. “Recycling medieval written material was a frequent occurrence in the workshop of early-modern (as well as medieval) binders,” writes Kwakkel. “When a printed book from 1577 was to be fitted with its binding, the binder grabbed the 132 paper slips from his equivalent of a blue recycling bin and moulded them, likely wet, into cardboard boards.”

The process means that words never intended for posterity can still be read today. “The slips are first of all remarkable simply because such small written objects rarely survive from medieval society… There are few places where such objects can slumber undisturbed for centuries,” he says. “This is when their long journey to our modern period started, as stowaways hitchhiking on 16th Century printed matter.”

Including receipts, requests to servants and shopping lists, it’s a collection that’s rare for historians. “Messages like these bring us as close to real medieval society as you can get,” writes Kwakkel. “They are the medieval voices we normally don’t hear, that tell the story of what happened ‘on the ground’.”

And it’s a collection that could be far bigger than first thought. Using an X-ray technology created to look beneath the surface of paintings and detect earlier stages of composition, Kwakkel has developed a way to see through fragile book bindings. In October 2015, he began scanning early printed books in Leiden University Library.

“The new technique is amazing in that it shows us fragments – medieval text – that we could otherwise never see because they are hidden behind a layer of parchment or paper,” wrote Kwakkel in a blog post about his Hidden Library project. While the technology needs to be improved, it hints at a process that could reveal a secret library within a library. “We might be able to access a hidden medieval ‘library’ if we were able to gain access to the thousands of manuscript fragments hidden in bindings.”

Source | http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20160819-the-secret-libraries-of-history

Even as many countries, barring India and China, have moved away from the print to the Internet, the latter may confuse us and constrict our thinking

We live in exciting times. Marshall McLuhan would have termed this as a brand new world of allatonceness — a world where time has ceased, space has vanished. We now live in a global village…a simultaneous happening. What McLuhan wrote in 1967, seems to be true today. The onset of digital media has metamorphosed our lives, especially the way we find, consume and use news.

It is a common belief that the age-old print media — newspapers, magazines, books — is faced with unprecedented threats from new-media vehicles, especially the Internet which is a whirlpool of information. In his book, The Vanishing Newspaper, Philip Meyer calculates that the first quarter of 2043 will be the moment when newsprint will die in America as the last exhausted reader will toss aside the last crumpled edition.

Delivering a lecture a few years ago at the Graduate School of Journalism of Columbia University, former Editor-at-Large of Time Inc, Daniel Okrent professed, “Twenty, thirty, at the outside 40 years from now, we will look back on the print media the way we look back on travel by horse and carriage, or by wind-powered ship.” He advanced numerous arguments to support this dictum.

Technology evolves — we have fast moved from main frame computers to laptops — which for Okrent, was his professional life's ‘locus, library and liver'. The speed is enthralling and captivating, making us all subservient to it — our crave for processors' speed today is as pressing as nomads hunt for leafs! The hurried prose of the daily newspapers, what many be called the first rough drafts of history, is giving way to ever-modifiable contents of the web.

The rhetoric is backed by empirical evidence as well. The Newspaper Association of America had found that the number of people employed in the print industry fell by 18 per cent between 1990 and 2004. Tumbling shares of listed newspaper firms have attracted ire of investors. In 2005, a group of shareholders in Knight Ridder, the owner of several big American dailies, got the firm sell its papers and thus end a 114-year history. In 2006, investment bank Morgan Stanley attacked the New York Times Company, the most august journalistic institution of all, because its share price had fallen by nearly half in four years.

More recently, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, in its World Press Trends Survey 2016, found that barring India and China, newspaper circulation in most developed countries were on a decline. Print unit circulation increased by +4.9 per cent globally in 2015 from a year earlier and showed a five-year growth of +21.6 per cent. This is largely the result of circulation growth in India, China and elsewhere in Asia as expanding literacy, economic growth, and low copy prices boost newspaper consumption. India and China together accounted for an astonishing 62 per cent of global average daily print unit circulation in 2015, up from 59 per cent in 2014. According to this report, available on the Internet, circulation rose +7.8 per cent in Asia in 2015 from a year earlier; it fell -2.4 per cent in North America, -2.7 per cent in Latin America, -2.6 per cent in the Middle East and Africa, -4.7 per cent  in Europe and -5.4 per cent in Australia and Oceania.

The instant cause of beneficiary of this has been the Internet. The Businessweek, in an April 2010 article, ‘The Print Media Are Doomed', captured the marketing logic for the continued demise of newspapers: “It's not that print is bad. It's that digital is better. It has too many advantages (and there'll only be more): Ubiquity, speed, permanence, searchability, the ability to update, the ability to remix, targeting, interaction, marketing via links, data feedback. Digital transcends the limitations of-and incorporates the best of-individual media.” Do we jump on to conclude that the print is dead, or it is the beginning of the end of print? I shall be circumspect, yet. Especially given that the reading habits of newspapers are ingrained culturally into many of us including our younger generation. The speed and the ceaseless chaos the Internet has caused is another factor that will push many away from Internet.

The abyss-like character of the Internet, I am afraid, may turn us into blind crawlers, meandering endlessly, constantly exposed to the vulnerability of information overload. Internet will confuse us, constrict our thinking, corrupt our senses. We may resort back to print, for all you know. Okrent may take a leaf out the new-found obsession of modern civilisation with ancient practices such as yoga and ayurveda. Only the form of the print may change in the context of the rise of the Internet. It shall not be the death of print yet, but birth of in-print.

Source | http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnists/oped/death-of-print-not-in-the-near-future.html

The secret libraries of history

Best ebook reader apps

If you want to carry a collection of books with you, you don’t necessarily need an ebook reader thanks to a selection of free-to-download ebook apps for mobile devices.
For book lovers who don’t fancy picking up a dedicated ebook reader, we’ve rounded up some of the best apps for reading ebooks on a smartphone or tablet. Read on for the details.
Best Buy ebook readers – not tempted by apps? Grab an ebook reader instead
The best apps for reading ebooks
1. iBooks
Price: book prices vary (free books also on offer)
Available for: iOS
Apple’s own app for reading ebooks, predictably named iBooks, is a great place to start for iOS users. The stock reading app is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, and you can turn your device landscape to view two pages at a time. The free iBooks app (with over 2.5 million titles) also lets you adjust the appearance of the screen so that text is displayed on a black background, great for readers that like to relax with a book in the evening.
The iBooks experience is also available on Macs running OS X Yosemite or later. There are a selection of free books on offer, but the majority of content is paid-for.
2. Google Play Books
Price: book prices vary (free books also on offer)
Available for: iOS, Android
Google’s own ebooks app lets you bookmark pages, highlight text and make notes. Some titles support text-to-speech, and there are over four million books in total. Some books on the store are free, while others can be rented or purchased to keep for good.
Books are synced to your Google account, so you can start reading a book on your tablet then carry on from where you left off on your smartphone the next morning.
3. Kindle
Price: book prices vary (free books also on offer)
Available for: iOS, Android
Just like iBooks, the Kindle app for iOS and Android is free to download, and you don’t need a Kindle ebook reader of your own to use it. Kindle for smartphones and tablets has a range of free titles to flick through (including Pride and Prejudice and Treasure Island), and it arrives with a built-in dictionary that makes looking up complicated words and phrases hassle-free.
There are over 1.5 million books to choose from, and the app also supports popular magazines and newspapers. According to Amazon, over 650,000 titles on the Kindle app are on sale for £3.99 or less. There are also 200,000 Kindle-exclusive titles.
4. Kobo Reading App
Price: book prices vary (free books also on offer)
Available for: iOS, Android
Kobo’s own mobile ebook app is home to over five million paid-for and free titles, covering magazines, comics and books suitable for kids. Kobo’s Night Mode will reduce eyestrain during those late-night reading sessions, and the app can sync your bookmarks, notes and highlights so you can continue reading a book across different devices.
We’ve tested a range of Kobo ebook readers in our test lab. Head over to our Kobo ebook reader reviews page for more.
5. 50,000 Free eBooks
Price: Free
Available for: iOS, Android

This mobile app from Oodles is packed with free ebooks, so whether you’re an English literature student or a commuter looking for a new read, there’s plenty of choice. Books can be downloaded right to your mobile from the app, and you can read them without an internet connection. Font style and size is customisable, and you can also download audiobooks for your offline collection.

It’s worth noting that Oodles is better for classic novels than modern bestsellers, but the app is free after all.

Link | https://blogs.which.co.uk/technology/app-review/best-ebook-reader-apps/