Pari Roundtable on Publishing
Pari, June 27-29, 2004
The roundtable discussed the changing face of publishing in a modern digital age but also in a world where there is an imbalance between rich and poor, technological and developing nations. In part the meeting followed on from discussions held at the conference "The Future of Knowledge in the World of the Internet" held in Pari, May 2002.
While such issues as IP, copyright and copyleft were considered, the meeting focused on two areas. The first of these revolved around a program to supply science and mathematics texts, a school level, to users in the Third World. These books would be placed on a web site where they could be downloaded anywhere in the world without charge.
The first two of these books have already been written and topics for ten more have already been selected. When finished the series would represent a comprehensive science and mathematics library.
The round table felt that the major audience for these books would not so much be schools but individuals who might be above average intelligence and who, in any case, will be strongly motivated. The next step will be to test these books in the field with a team of volunteer teachers. Funding will also be needed to cover preparation for the testing exercise, translations and for secretarial assistance.
The other area discussed was the proposal that the Pari Center should publish books on topics related to its particular interests – science, the arts, ethics, spirituality and economic impacts on society. Books would be commissioned by an editorial board, edited and designed by the center and shipped in the form of pdf files to be printed and distributed on demand. A number of possible topics was discussed and there was particular favor expressed for essays collected around a common theme – for example, the dialogue between art and science.
Already the face of publishing has changed with the ability to print small numbers of books very rapidly and at low cost, compared to earlier publishing models that were only economic with large print runs. Tthe technology of IPODs and mp3s is also likely to make an impact in the field. The Center was therefore invited to look at the whole nature of the publishing model and ways it could be changed.